Monthly Archives: January 2019

Society Must Make Divorce Less Stressful For Children

It’s Family Mediation Week. The Family Mediation Association ‘FMAaims to raise awareness of mediation and how it can help separating families manage their issues collaboratively and productively. We support Family Mediation Week and thank the FMA for all their hard work. – #FamilyMediationWeek – #ABetterWay -.

family mediation 2019 focus mediation

So why don’t more separating couples mediate?

Clients tell us that they find the mediation process supportive and that it not only resolves their issues, but also improves their communication. However, there are many separating couples still battling in court. Litigation is very expensive and the court route is full of delay and uncertainty. Finances and child arrangements can be agreed quickly and cost efficiently in mediation. Mediation creates a safe space to have difficult but necessary conversations. So why don’t more separating couples mediate? Fear. They worry that mediation won’t result in an agreement that adequately meets their needs. They may believe that their spouse knows more about their finances or is a more persuasive communicator and will convince the mediator to take their side. However, the mediator is trained to ensure the process is fair and each participant is updated and fully informed. Each spouse is listened to and their concerns are taken into consideration. Power imbalances are also identified and addressed. The participants make their own decisions and retain full control. Mediators welcome solicitor’s advice so clients feel safe to make decisions about their future. Sadly, many cases that are suitable for mediation end up in court. The court looks for fairness and not winners and so often the financial and emotional investment is disproportionate to any gain.

Divorce is a huge trauma – let’s all support separating couples

Divorce/separation is a huge trauma for spouses and their children. Very few take the decision to divorce lightly. Family Law needs to respect their difficult decision and the divorce process should facilitate an amicable end to each marriage. To children their separated parents will always be their family. Blaming one person for the demise of the relationship promotes conflict not peace. Reform is coming and not before time. However, society as a whole also needs to support separating couple. Whilst a family member or friend may be hurting and need a shoulder to cry on, we also need to support them in their transition from spouse to co-parent. This means focusing on the future and not a past that cant be changed. Co-parents are parents who are each actively involved in their children’s lives after separation. These parents communicate respectfully and exchange info to keep children emotionally and physically safe. It isn’t always easy but they persevere. Children need both parents and its parental conflict that harms them more than the divorce. Children learn from their parents and divorcing well teaches children that whilst not every marriage lasts forever, there is a dignified way to separate that keeps children safe and protected. Mediation supports and facilitates this. Entering into a court battle over finances and children should always be seen as a last resort. It’s important that all family law professionals regularly ask themselves if all their advice or interventions are child focused and likely to promote the transition from spouse to co-parent. It’s the duty of parents, friends, family, professionals, The Ministry of Justice and the media, to make divorce less stressful for children and promote more amicable divorces that create co-parents and not long term conflicted parents.

Author: Sara Stoner, Family Mediator, Broxbourne & Potters Bar

Call us on 01908 231132 or Email: info@focus-mediation.co.uk for further information or to book a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM) (11 Locations: Milton Keynes, Bedford, Broxbourne, Hemel Hempstead, London, Northampton, Oxford, Potters Bar, St Albans, Harrow and Watford).

Read more about family mediation at:  www.focus-mediation.co.uk

 

Divorce: Do you need to lay blame on the other person in Divorce Proceedings? Should the Law be updated?

Under the current law (Matrimonial Causes Act 1973) you must show to the court that your marriage has broken down irretrievably. Our divorce laws are primarily concerned with you having to prove blame and that the breakdown of the marriage is due to the fault of your husband/wife. The proceedings can be lengthy and you can encounter procedural difficulties making the whole process stressful and confrontational.

divorce do you need to lay blame on the other person in divorce proceedings focus mediation blog

To prove the breakdown you must prove one of five factors:-

Adultery

You must show that your husband/wife has been involved in a sexual relationship with a member of the opposite sex. You must blame them for the breakdown of the marriage. Difficulties may occur if your husband/wife will not admit to the adultery. This can cause delay in proceedings and finding evidence to substantiate the allegation may not be possible. It is often best to obtain written confirmation that the adultery is admitted before proceeding with the petition. You are able to name the ‘other person’ in an adultery petition. However, this brings another party into the proceedings and one who will need to admit to the adultery. This can cause potential delays and unnecessary complications and is not required. Also, if you are made aware of the adultery and subsequently continue to live with your husband/wife for six months or more then you cannot issue proceedings based on that adultery.

Unreasonable Behaviour

You must show that your husband/wife has behaved in such an unreasonable manner that you cannot be expected to continue to live with them. You must blame them for the breakdown of the marriage. What is and what is not unreasonable behaviour can be very subjective. However, you must show to the court, in a written statement in your petition, that your husband/wife has behaved in such a way that an ordinary/average/reasonable thinking person would consider the behaviour to be unreasonable.

Unreasonable behaviour can take many forms but the most common include:

Domestic Abuse – physical, verbal, sexual, undermining, threats, possessiveness, control, insults, blame, deprivation.

Social problems – drug taking, alcohol abuse, criminal activities.

Financial concerns – financial irresponsibility, lack of contribution, increasing joint debt, controlling, secretive.

Desertion

You must show that your husband /wife has left you with the intention of ending the marriage and had no reason to do so. You must blame them for the breakdown of the marriage. Proceedings cannot be issued until two years after your husband/wife deserted you. This reason for divorce is rarely relied upon as it is difficult to prove. It is usually only used in cases of ‘absolute’ desertion i.e. when no trace of your husband/wife can be found.

A two year separation period

Many couples choose to rely on a two year separation period as they do not have to prove any blame against the other person. However, the other person must give their consent, in writing, to the divorce. It is possible to divorce on this basis even if you are living in the same household. However, you must prove that you have lived completely separate and apart within that household. To include not sleeping together or eating together or doing each other’s household chores i.e. washing, ironing, cleaning and shopping.

A five year separation period

This is the same as a two year separation period except that you do not need the written consent of your husband/wife. In fact it is the only way to divorce without agreement or consent.

Is an overhaul of the Divorce Law needed in modern society?

For a number of years there have been suggestions and discussions upon how to move towards ‘no fault’ divorces. The blaming culture of divorce has led to continued conflict, stress and difficulties which have impacted on the participants and their children.

A Government consultation for the reform of the divorce laws took place between September and December 2018 and its outcome is awaited. Generally, the amendment of the law to a ‘no fault’ divorce system will strive to ensure that couples are able to consider the implications and change their minds if need be. To ensure there is support for them and their children and that the process is future focusing. It is hoped that any changes will be implemented in the shorter term and that they will prove to be quicker and less stressful than the existing proceedings. It is thought that only ‘irretrievable breakdown of the marriage’ will need to be shown and contesting the proceedings may not be possible.

The proposed changes in the divorce law will sit well with family mediation. Mediators try to bring couples together to sort out arrangements for their children and their finances with less:

Acrimony

Animosity

Confrontation

Antagonism

Stress

Anxiety

………… and less blame.

Author: Elaine Clarke, Family Mediator, Bedford.

Call us on 01908 231132 or Email: info@focus-mediation.co.uk for further information or to book a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM) (11 Locations: Milton Keynes, Bedford, Broxbourne, Hemel Hempstead, London, Northampton, Oxford, Potters Bar, St Albans, Harrow and Watford).

Read more about family mediation at:  www.focus-mediation.co.uk

 

 

 

Mediation – I Can’t Afford It!

We know the feeling: Christmas has used up all the money and there’s nothing but bills in the post.

i cant afford it focus blog jan 19

But the fact is, if you are reading this blog, you are going through some sort of separation or divorce, and you are wondering what sort of professional help you should get. The last thing you want is an open-ended arrangement where costs mount invisibly with nothing to show for them except a huge, unexpected bill …

At Focus Mediation, we make two things absolutely clear: mediation is cheaper than using lawyers to negotiate your settlement, and all the costs are known in advance.

Why is it cheaper? Because you each pay half our hourly rate. When you pay a lawyer to represent you, you pay the entire hourly rate. With both of you there in the room with the mediator, you share it. It’s that simple. So, a lawyer might charge you £280 + VAT per hour (this varies, of course, and some offer fixed fee packages). We charge each of you £140 + VAT per hour.

We also charge you at the same rate for any documents we draw up: your Financial Statement, which captures all your figures in one place, and your Memorandum of Understanding or Parenting Plan, which records your Agreement.

We do NOT charge for emails or phone calls.

So, the typical cost of mediation looks like this (costs are per person, but will vary according to time actually taken):

One session of 1.5 hours sorting out arrangements for your children: £252 including VAT. Simple Parenting Plan £168 including VAT.

Three sessions of 1.5 hours sorting out your finances: £756 including VAT. Two documents for your financial settlement: £504 including VAT

We make all these costs clear at the start. You book your sessions at times to suit your budget, and you pay at the end of each session, so it’s pay as you go, going at your speed to suit your purse. No hidden costs, no deposit up front, nothing that you don’t know about and agree to.

We always recommend you consult your lawyers for personal advice, and you will need them for your financial Consent Order, but by using mediation for your negotiations, you definitely save money.

And if you reflect on the fact that a typical court case will set you each back £10 – 20,000, there isn’t much more we need to say ….

Author: Caroline Friend, Family Mediator, Oxford.

Call us on 01908 231132 or Email: info@focus-mediation.co.uk for further information or to book a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM) (11 Locations: Milton Keynes, Bedford, Broxbourne, Hemel Hempstead, London, Northampton, Oxford, Potters Bar, St Albans, Harrow and Watford).

Read more about family mediation at:  www.focus-mediation.co.uk

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