Monthly Archives: May 2015

Kids come first

“The Randolph Hotel is on fire!” As my bus pulled around the corner, everyone turned to look out of the window: a plume of black smoke was spiralling up from the top of the Randolph’s central tower. People were stopping to stare, and as we moved up the road, we met the inevitable volley of sirens.


A small boy, his eyes shining, turned to his Mum and crowed with excitement. “There’ll be fire engines and hosepipes!” Then his eyes grew troubled. “What if there are kids in there? They’ll get burnt, won’t they? They’ll be trapped…” His anxiety was infectious.

“Oh, don’t worry, said his Mum: they’ll get the kids out first.”

Because kids come first don’t they. Always. It’s one of the unwritten principles of life. We prioritise the needs of the children, because they are vulnerable and they cannot look after themselves. We have to meet their needs.

But how easy is it to apply this principle when a marriage breaks down and all you can think about is where you are going to live? Is it possible to put the kids first – to rescue them from the debris of your marriage – so that their needs come first?

At Focus Mediation, we can help you both face the uncomfortable truths involved in separating your lives, and devise a way forward which makes sure the kids don’t get burnt. We give you a safe, neutral space in which to discuss your hopes and fears. And we can talk to the children themselves, if you think that would help. Sometimes, hearing what they think and knowing what they want to save out of the wreck can be very useful.

Exam Time in Schools- What price do children pay when parents are breaking up?


When parents’ relationships break down, the aftershock is felt by all those around them. The first to be affected are often the children.

In November last year, Resolution (1) commissioned research which surveyed 14-22 year olds about the effect of their parent’s break-up, asking how it had directly affected them.

The survey uncovered that

  • One in five(19%) said they didn’t get the exam results they were hoping
  • The majority (65%) said that their GCSE exam results were affected 
  • 44% said A-levels suffered.
  • 15% said they had to move schools, which may have had a knock-on effect on exam results.

Children also experienced difficulties away from the exam room.

  • Almost a quarter (24%) said that they struggled to complete homework, essays or assignments. And
  • more than one in 10 (11%) said they found themselves “getting into more trouble at school, college or university,” and
  • 12% confessed to skipping lessons.

Parents often ask us how they can minimise the effects on children and reduce the impact that their break-up has on their children’s academics and potentially their future career prospects.

At Focus Mediation, our mediators will keep your children firmly in the centre of the picture when discussing divorce and separation. We can help you to help your children in the following ways:

1 By keeping it out of court

Mediation is a way to work out how best to separate in a way which has the least impact on your children. Going to court is hard on those involved and those around them- it’s how you imagine it and ten times worse in terms of stress and often in terms of time spent and costs incurred.

2 Make agreements about what you say and do in front of the children

In mediation we can help you to set ground rules for yourselves about how you will speak to each other and conduct yourselves in front of the children and the extent to which they will be involved in what is going on for you. This is invaluable when feelings are still raw and emotions difficult to contain.

3 Make contact arrangements children-focused

Our mediators can help you to make agreements which meet your interests whilst keeping the wellbeing of your children in the foreground at all times.

It is important that your children have time to study and time to relax as well as spending time with the two of you.

As mediators we will always test with you the reality of any proposals which could inhibit their ability to learn and to flourish. At the very least we can help you to make child-centred arrangements to get your children through this stressful summer period of exam preparation and performance.

It is difficult enough for young people in this academically competitive world where every grade counts. Most parents will fully support the creation of a plan which eases the pain and the difficulties inevitably caused by their break-up which impact on their children.

4 Joined up Parenting

No child likes to be caught between the two opposing views of the people we are closest to. In mediation, we can also help you to smooth out any foreseeable future bumps in the road: we can help you to look at what happens if you disagree on choices your children make, how you want to communicate with each other and the extent to which you can co-parent in a joined up way, even though you are no longer together.

Having safe parameters within which they can operate is also vital for children, particularly as they grow older and behaviour can become more challenging. Remember: any gaps in communication are easy to exploit for a wily teenager!

5 Speaking to your children, enabling their voices to be heard.

Finally, we offer direct consultation with your children, enabling them to have a voice in the changes taking place. We speak confidentially with them, away from mediation and then, with their agreement, feed back to parents what they want them to hear, without fear of taking sides or hurting your feelings.

Because from what we hear when we consult children, they care as much about you as you do about them.

Any thoughts about this, please do Tweet us 

or share your thoughts on our Facebook page – we welcome your feedback and comments



[1] the body representing 6,500 family law professionals in England and Wales,

Why choose Focus Mediation in Hemel Hempstead, St Albans or Watford.

If you are looking for help with separation or divorce, and you live in or around Hemel HempsteadSt Albans or Watford, you have come to the right place.


Mediation is the new way to approach divorce and separation. You can discuss how best to share your parenting focusing on the children’s needs. It can be a worry as to how you are going to manage financially. We can work with you, look at your budgets and sort out a plan that makes it possible for you both to go forward.

Your Focus mediator will help you negotiate the settlement that you feel suits you both, speeding up the process and dramatically cutting your costs. Focus works with you at your pace, efficiently and cost effectively to help you sort everything out. Our mediators work full time on family mediation: they have chosen to specialise in family mediation because they believe that it is a positive way forward for separating family. Focus mediators are family mediation specialists who have mediated for hundreds of couples – and this experience shows.

%d bloggers like this: