Lawyer Monthly - February 2023

probably an already hostile environment within a separating family. Whilst parents fight it out during the court process, i.e. by asking a stranger to decide on their private family life instead of making their own decision, parents may also risk losing or indeed lose the possibility of there being any future positive communication with one another. This situation, at least in the short term, will inevitably impact your child and cause further unnecessary stress and anxiety to all concerned. No child is built for conflict; they should be allowed to just be children, unburdened. Further, in the near future, the family courts will open its doors to the public. Conflict is often a destructive thing, so what is the answer for separating families? Mediation remains a very underused tool, which is why it needs an awareness week. It could provide a parent a lifeline and a much-needed opportunity for them to be the best parent that they can be, in a supported space. Thanks to its very flexible and fluid approach, family mediation offers almost endless possibilities to achieve an acceptable solution. Parents can openly discuss between themselves their child’s specific needs and what is or is not going to work for them, as well as issues that the courts may not necessarily cover or indeed even be interested in. Family mediation can often help parents communicate more effectively. It can provide for a far more authentic way of parenting, offering concerned parents the opportunity of a private supported conversation in a safe space. Mediate to Save Time, Money and Frustrations Not only is family mediation typically a quicker and less expensive method to resolve your child arrangements, but it is far more likely that during the process, both parents will be given an opportunity to consider and discuss how the child feels about the outcome, whilst providing the parents with helpful signposting. THOUGHT LEADER 49 When parents embark on the uncharted waters that are contested children law applications, this may further damage what is probably an already hostile environment within a separating family.

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