A better way to divorce?

No one finds separation and divorce a happy subject, but increasing numbers of people are finding that using Family Mediation to help them resolve their conflicts over children and money takes some of the agony out of separation and family breakup.

Family mediation was first developed in Bristol more than 30 years ago as a way of getting separating couples to try and see things from each others points of view, and to come to agreements over childcare and financial arrangements which suit them best. The mediator doesn’t act as a judge, or even as an adviser, but works to allow the couple to express their positions constructively and find their own solutions to these very personal issues.

From next year cuts to legal aid mean that there will be no more public funding for divorcing or separating couples, but it will still be available for mediation. The number of mediation cases look set to soar as couples look for a cheaper and quicker way to settle end of relationship issues, in as amicable a way as possible.

National audit office figures show that mediation is four times quicker than going to court and also four time cheaper.

Progressive Mediation is a Bishopston based service run by husband and wife team Frances Place, a former family law solicitor and Charles Place, a former social worker. Because they run their practise from their home opposite St Andrew’s Park, they have very low overheads and so are able to keep their fees lower than other local services.

Frances says “When your relationship has crumbled, and you want to cut your ties as soon as possible, it seems easy to head straight to a divorce solicitor. But there is another way. Mediation is a calmer and cheaper way forward.”

She describes the way in which mediation can get into the small details of how a separation will work, in a way which a formal legal process never could. She describes how with one couple ‘we talked about nurseries, bedtimes, dropping off plans, birthdays, holidays extended families and telephone calls’. Progressive Mediation can also work with parents on to how to break the news of separation or divorce to their children.

Research shows that 12 years after separation, couples who have gone through the mediation process are still reaping the rewards with a much happier outcome and an ability to communicate as parents in the interests of their children.

As one Progressive Mediation client put it “If it hadn’t been for mediation we would still be fighting.”

For more information please go to http://www.progressive-mediation.co.uk/

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