Family dispute resolution experts are preparing for an increase in demand from separating parents as the school summer holiday heads towards a close.
John Taylor, Chair of The Family Mediation Council, says the various pressures of the six-week holiday often lead to a rise in the number of parents calling time on their relationship – creating big questions about what happens next for all their family members.
“The long break from the usual term-time routines can put huge burdens on fragile relationships, especially with the costs and other pressures that come with extra child-care responsibilities,” he says.
“For an unhappy couple, spending more time together in the summer can deepen long-standing cracks in their relationship, leading to one or both partners taking a long, deep breath – only to confirm what they’ve suspected for a long time: the relationship is over.”
It’s over … but what do I do now?
John Taylor says that those who have made the decision to separate can feel daunted, not knowing where to turn:
“When you separate or divorce, there are so many challenging questions, ranging from ‘Where will the children live?’ to ‘Who gets the family dog?’”
“Other questions need answering, too, including:
- How can we make sure we each spend time with the children?
- How will we sort our money?
- Who will live where?
- What do we do about our home?
- What should we do about debts, pensions, and joint bank accounts?”
But people facing such questions need not despair: there are over 1,000 accredited Family Mediators across England and Wales who have the skills and expertise to help them shape the arrangements that need to be made, without heading to court.
“Family mediation is a process that helps ex-partners agree what will work for them – as they look to make parenting, property and finance arrangements,” he says.
“An independent, professionally-trained Mediator can help you work things out, and avoid the court process – with all the stress, delay and cost that could bring.
“Professional Mediators are there to help you to create long-term solutions for your own particular circumstances, so you don’t have to leave it to a court to make the decisions which matter for your family”.
Financial help is available
The UK government’s Family Mediation Voucher Scheme provides up to £500 in England and Wales to help separating couples make settlements using family mediation.
Legal Aid also remains available for family mediation (if you are eligible).