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Mediation is a non-court dispute resolution process for couples who are experiencing a relationship breakdown. The aim of mediation is to facilitate open, face-to-face discussions about future arrangements for the children and other matters that may be affected by the separation. It is often very beneficial to couples who are finding it difficult to communicate and focus on what is best for the children. In mediation the emphasis is very much on the future and not the past. Mediation can be used to work out arrangements for children and their schedules in addition to any other practical decisions that need to be considered and addressed.
Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process. The confidential nature of mediation enables parents to discuss their concerns and ideas openly in the knowledge that the discussion cannot be referred to outside of the mediation forum. Mediation involves an independent, qualified mediator, often a family lawyer, assisting parents to reach a mutual agreement. During the mediation sessions the mediator guides the parents through their discussions assisting them to talk about what they might like to happen and ensuring that they listen to each other with courtesy and respect ensuring that their children are always considered first. Following those discussions it is hoped that the mediator can assist the parents to move towards an agreement. Throughout the process the mediator remains impartial but supportive, their role is to open up and facilitate discussion with the aim of reaching agreement.
A Parenting Plan is a written plan drawn up by parents after they separate. It can be used to decide all practical decisions in respect of children including their schedules, living arrangements, education and health care.
The purpose of using a written parenting plan is to record the arrangements that the parents have decided to put in place for their children after separation. A parenting plan can also be structured to include plans for holidays and special occasions.
Making decisions and agreeing arrangements regarding children can be challenging for separated parents. Mediation assists parents to work together through constructive communication to develop a parenting plan that has been decided upon and agreed by both parents.
During the mediation sessions a trained mediator will guide the parents through discussion assisting them to explain what each would like to happen, the mediator then assists the parents to move towards an agreement.
Although children do not directly participate, their needs are regarded as paramount in the mediation process. Mediation helps parents to focus on making a plan that is in the best interests of their children, that is practical and considers situations and eventualities their parents might not have otherwise thought about.
Drawing up a parenting plan in the mediation process can aid communication between parents and reduce areas of potential future conflict. In mediation parents are encouraged to work together in a constructive manner, thereby reducing conflict and resulting in a more positive outcome for parents and children.
There are numerous benefits of using mediation to draw up a parenting plan, not least because mediation is quicker, less stressful and much less expensive than other processes.
In mediation parents have the control to decide the arrangements for their children, as opposed to decisions being imposed upon them. Within the court process the control is ultimately given to the Court.
Mediation very often improves communication between parents, resulting in solutions being reached quicker. Overall, mediation is a constructive way of parents agreeing arrangements in respect of their children.