Separating Couples Mediation / Divorce
While counselling gives couples some direction and helps in decision-making, Mediation is an Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism that can be used to in order to attempt to save a relationship or in order to attempt to agree matters between the separating couple. In this section I am referring to couples who have decided to separate. I also deal with couples who hope to continue as a couple, for information on this see couples Mediation in other family disputes.
Separation is a very stressful time for the family and should be handled sensitively to find and outcome that works for everybody. When I was working as a solicitor I saw over and over the high stress and the huge cost of having arguments going through the courts, I have seen the assets the couple were arguing over being being spent on legal fees. Ideally everything as agreed in advance of the court, in the form of a meditated agreement which makes the Divorce less expensive and minimizes stress and helps to preserve relationships. It is also accepted that Mediated agreements last longer than court orders in family law issues since the parties themselves and not a judge decide what works best for them.
Child Centered Focused
Avoiding lengthy court proceedings is particularly important where there are children in order to minimise the impact on the children. How the parents separate can have long term effects for the children. Parents divorce can become a traumatic event in the children’s lives if not handled well. It is important that time is put into managing a separation as best as possible. When a couple separates the partnership relationship is over but the parenting relationship continues.One of the roles of the Mediator is to support the family in focusing on the children’s needs and to assist the parents and where appropriate the child in identifying and considering possible options. Where appropriate the children may be, if the parents deem it appropriate be asked to express their own views, emotions and needs.
Issues that can arise in a Separating Couple Mediation
Issues surrounding the day to day care of the children.
- Maintenance or child support payments and the division of additional costs e.g. third level educational costs.
- Parenting plans, these can be long or short term.
- Succession issues (who inherits your estate)
- Pensions, if there is a formal pension, sometimes a pension adjustment order is needed by the court.
- Division of assets, for instance what happens the family home.
- Any loans or mortgages.
- Where needed a monthly family budget can be done up.
- When suitable agreed policy in relation to issues such as technology use by the children.
- Parental alienation
- Alcohol and other substance abuse.
- Emotional or physical abuse (please note that there are circumstances where Meditation may not be suitable if there is physical abuse. This is with a view to safeguarding the abuse victim.)Meditation should act as a tool of empowerment for victims of abuse.
- Issues regarding the emotional and educational needs of the children.
Areas that the Mediator works on when working with a separating couple is making sure each party is heard.
Mediation can also be a softer tool to use during a divorce process. This means that the couple can iron out contentious issues such as property and day to day child care through Mediation instead of via the legal system. the options available through the legal system are judicial separation, which is a court ordered legal separation, and divorce. There is a third option which works very well through Mediation and this is Legal Separation or a Deed of Separation.
Couples can agree on the issues that affect them and put that into a mediated agreement. This can be the basis of the divorce agreement if the parties choose.
Other Family Disputes
There are many other types of family dispute that Mediation is useful for.
- Sibling Disputes.
- Disputes between the generations.
- Disputes in relation to care for elderly relative
- Care for an adult relative who is unable to care for themselves.
- Disputes arising from abuse and neglect.
- Disputes arising from Alcohol or other substance abuse or addition.
Mediation can be useful within a Couple for several issues, this is Couples Mediation. Couples Mediation can deal with whatever issues have arisen between a them that they would like to attempt to resolve and work through. Couples Mediation can help to work through various issues which are proving problematic for the couple
Typical topics include:
- Child care and the division of responsibility.
- Financial issues and budgeting.
- Household chores.
- Where one of the partners feels disrespected.
- Where one or both party have been unfaithful, re-establishing trust after an affair.
- Infertility issues, failed IVF, miscarriage.
- Children with autism or other additional health care or emotional needs.
- Emotional issues where one party feels that they have been unfairly treated.
- Alcohol or other substance abuse
Teenagers and agreeing on a parenting plan pertaining to teenagers is a common issue. The types of issues that can involved include behavior, boyfriends and girlfriends, the Junior Certificate and the Leaving Certificate and rules such as technology or curfew time.
Mediation with teenagers
Disputes between parents and teenagers are common. sometimes they go so far that communication has broken down or that behavior is of a type that the parents find hard to accept. Issues that arise include the behavior, respect, freedom, technology, study. Often the teenager moves out and communication is totally broken down. Mediation with teenagers is another very useful form of mediation where the preservation of the relationship is so important and there are few alternatives open to families.Sometimes Mediation is used in conjunction with counseling. Usually it is between on parent and a teenager.
Alcohol and substance abuse
When these issues are involved the probability for dispute seems to increase dramatically, they are very hard emotional issues which affect many members of the family.
Sibling Mediation and Adult Child and Parent Mediation
Mediation is very useful in these type of disputes. The relationships are long standing and tend to be complex and have changed substantially over time, for instance as a child grows into and adult.
The types of issues that arise:
- Care of a relative who cannot longer care for themselves.
- The division of expense such as nursing home care
- When relatives enter business relationship which become problematic.
- This is common in the agricultural industry and other family businesses such as shops and hotels.