Could mediation help your family with parenting arrangements?

If you find it difficult to communicate with your former partner about your children, it is worth exploring if mediation might could be a constructive option that could benefit your family.

A recently reported case involving an international family has highlighted the long-lasting benefits that mediation could offer. The father applied to the court because he wanted his children to be returned from Ukraine to London where they should be living in a shared care arrangement between both parents. The maternal grandfather is a former vice president of Ukraine, and a wealthy and well-connected businessman. It is alleged he is using his connections to prevent the English court orders from taking effect (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-47372935).

Family court proceedings of this nature would ordinarily be anonymised. However, because the mother wouldn’t comply with the court’s original order to return the children, and the family has a public status, the judge made the names of the parents and maternal grandfather public in the hope this would elicit the mother’s co-operation. To date, it has not. Most recently, the court has urged these parents to engage in mediation, saying “… there is no case, however conflicted, that is not capable of being resolved by mediation.”

Mediation can have positive effects for every member of the family. A study about the effects of mediation carried out by Dr Robert Emery PhD in the US in the 1980s has more than stood the test of time. He and his colleagues followed 71 families who had just applied to the court for help to sort out the arrangements for their children. Completely randomly, the families were assigned to continue through the court proceedings, or first to try mediation. The study found that parents who had engaged in an average six hours of mediation, rather than going straight down the court route, achieved the following:

  • both parents were more involved in in their children’s lives twelve years later;

  • three times as many parents as the group who had relied on the court applications still saw their children every week;

  • five times as many parents as the group who had relied on court application spoke on the telephone to their other parent every week;

  • mediation caused parents to get on better with one another and to rate one another as better parents twelve years into the future.

You can read more about the study in Dr Robert Emery PhD’s book entitled “The Truth About Children And Divorce – Dealing With The Emotions So You And Your Children Can Thrive” – available via Amazon.

Interested in finding out more about how mediation could help you and your family? Get in touch with the family mediators here at Mills & Reeve for practical guidance and advice.

Claire Molyneux

Karen McGonagle