Mediation between parents exists to support the parents in identifying their differences, talk through them and work with all parties to identify an action plan that all are in agreement with; very importantly this should include the children too.
Children are extremely receptive to what is happening around them and events such as a separation, or even a small argument between parents, can lead to increased stress and anxiety. This can further lead to feelings of confusion, frustration and resentment, thus making a fragile situation that much worse. Mediators will work not only with parents but the children too, where appropriate. It is important that children are able to talk about how they are feeling and that their points of view are valued. This in turn will help them feel more involved in the decisions being made and therefore less uncertain about what the future may hold.
Mediation between parents will take place with an impartial mediator. It is important to realise that mediation is not a form of counselling. It is a neutral place in which to talk through any decisions that are causing conflict. These decisions could be anything from who has custody of a child to how many hours a week a parent may see a child. Mediation sessions are voluntary and could be used as an alternative to court. Indeed, a court will often suggest that parents try mediation before going through their systems. Whilst decisions made in mediation are not legally binding, they could be made so by approaching a solicitor following a decision to have the appropriate paperwork completed. Decisions will only be written down and taken to be signed (if desired) once all parties involved have had a chance to talk through their points of view, thoughts, and feelings and everybody is in agreement with the decision.