Archive for the ‘family’ Tag

Parents in denial about impact of divorce on children   Leave a comment

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Netmums’s new report reveals separating parents are in denial about the impact their divorce can have on their children. They surveyed 1000 parents and 100 children separately and the key points from the research follow:

  • Only 14 per cent of children were able to be honest with their parents about how upset they felt.
  • Concerningly, two in five (39%) said they ‘hide their feelings from their parents as they don’t want to upset them’ while one in five felt ‘there was no point in telling my parents how I feel as they are too wrapped up in themselves’
  • One in 12 felt forced to look after the parent as the relationship broke down while more than a third (35%) claimed one of their warring parents tried to turn them against the other.
  • Almost a third of under 18s described themselves as ‘devastated’ by their parents divorce while one in 12 thought it meant their parents ‘didn’t love them’ and had ‘let them down’.  One in eight (13%) blamed themselves for the split.
  • The trauma of the spilt was so bad for some youngsters that 31 per cent witnessed their parents fighting while one in 20 (five per cent) drank, and three per cent took drugs to cope. Shockingly, one in nine self-harmed (11 per cent).
  • A further six per cent considered suicide and one in 50 tried it but was found in time.

From a parent’s perpective

  • By contrast, only five per cent of parents realised their children blamed themselves for the split, and one in ten thought their kids were ‘relieved’ they left their partner
  • 10% of parents realised their child had seen them fighting – three times lower than the true figure.
  • 8% admitted they had tried to turn their child against the other parent, almost four times lower than reported by the children.
  • 77% of separated couples think their kids coped well – but only 18% of children are happy their parents are no longer together.
  • Over a third claim one of their warring parents tried to turn them against the other – but only eight% of mums and dads admit to it.
  • One in five youngsters drank and one in nine self-harmed to cope – but just one in 100 parents knew
  • Furthermore, only one in ten parents knew their children were hiding their true feelings – and fewer than 1% were savvy enough to realise their child was drinking, self harming or doing drugs to cope.

Coping and moving on

  • On a more positive note, children coped better than adults with how wider society views broken families, as more than double the number of youngsters thought divorce was ‘not seen as a big deal’ (64%) compared to parents (28%).
  • Over half (53%) of mums and dads were worried their families would be judged but just 27% of kids agreed. And double the number of parents thought divorce meant they had failed (18%) compared just nine per cent of children who felt the same.
  • The study also showed the most common way to tell children parents were splitting was for mum to tell them face to face (28%) followed by both parents telling them together (24%). But 13% overheard it during a row and 1% were told by text.
  • Once a decision was made by the parents to break up, two in five parents left that day with a further 18% fleeing the family home within a week.

FUTHER HELP AND SUPPORT

NFM is a network of professional family mediation providers based in England and Wales that work with families affected by relational breakdown. All providers aim to help clients achieve an outcome that works best for them and their family

If you would like to get more information about mediation and/or make an appointment you can contact NFM direct on 0300 4000 636 or you can also contact a NFM family mediation provider in your area.

All services also take referrals from Solicitors, the court or other helping / support agencies.

You can also visit the Netmums Drop-in Clinic to ask questions and be supported by a Netmums parent supporter.

Divorce rates increase as family resolve struggles to withstand   Leave a comment

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The number of divorces in England and Wales have slightly increased by 0.5% since 2011 – as shown by the latest figures out today from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Jane Robey, Chief Executive Officer of National Family Mediation, the largest provider of family mediation in the U.K. responded by stating:

“In 2011 we saw the divorce rates hit an all-time low. The theory was that couples couldn’t afford to split as a result of the recession. Now we see divorce rates are rising. Is this as a result of the anecdotal green shoots of economic recovery or because breaking point has been reached?”

“Nobody plans for a divorce and it can be emotionally, financially and practically challenging but the sustained pressure of the economic recession with job losses redundancy, financial insecurity and huge hike in cost of living will have tested many families resolve to the limits. Sadly the ONS figures indicate that many families have reached tipping point and cannot withstand anymore”.

Families past the talking point need affordable expert advice and information to be able to move forward. National Family Mediation understands all too well the impact and expense of divorce and the effect conflict created by relationship breakdown can have on families.

Going through the process of divorce can cause great uncertainty to all members of the family, and at such a stressful time, many couples find it difficult to talk to each other about their concerns and the plans they need to make.

Family Mediation can help because it gives you a private and supportive setting to talk through all the issues surrounding your divorce or separation. Simon Hughes, Justice Minister, supports this view:

“”[The government is] committed to making sure that more people make use of it rather than go through the confrontational and stressful experience of going to court.”

“That is why we want them to use the excellent mediation services available to agree a way forward, rather than have one forced upon them.”

Professionally, trained mediators provide you with the tools to untangle all the strands around family breakdown, whether it is before, during or after the event, and offer you a structured process that enables you to focus on your practical plans for the future.

Robey adds: “National Family Mediation aims to help families adjust to the change that relationship breakdown brings with minimum distress and conflict, with the welfare of children in these families being paramount”.

 Editors Notes:

  1. According to the ONS release in 2012 – the latest year published – there were a total of 118,140 divorces, a slight increase on 2011, when there were 117,558 (ONS).
  2. Of the 2012 total, almost half of these divorces occurred in the first 10 years of marriage, with divorces most likely to occur between the fourth and eighth wedding anniversary. 71% of divorces were for first marriages (ONS).
  3. National Family Mediation has a network of accredited family mediation services delivering in over 500 locations across England, Wales and the Channel Islands. Our services are proven to reduce the conflict in separation, help families avoid lengthy and costly court battles and provide a more affordable and quicker route than traditional legal remedies.
  4. Couples that use National Family Mediation typically take just over three months to finalise their divorce or separation while cases that go to court take four times longer.
  5. National Family Mediation is also considerably more affordable, especially as we are able to offer legal aid to eligible clients in mediation.
  6. National Family Mediation’s professionally accredited family mediators can help families resolve all the practical, legal, emotional and financial issues that arise from separation. Most importantly, NFM can help families make long lasting arrangements that benefit their children.

A week dedicated to helping families sort out their separation outside of court   Leave a comment

National Family Mediation is a proud supporter of National Family Dispute Resolution Week. The initiative, launched today, aims to raise awareness of non-confrontational methods of resolving family breakdown, such as mediation, collaborative law and arbitration.

According to a polling carried out by ComRes in 2012, shows that the majority of Britons believe that putting the child’s interests first and avoiding conflict are the top factors to consider when going through a divorce.

Four out of five (78%) say that putting children’s interests first would be their first or second most important consideration in a divorce, and 53% would prioritise making the divorce as conflict-free as possible.

Despite this, over four-fifths of people (81%) believe that children end up being the main casualties of divorce, and 40% believe that divorces can never be without conflict – a figure that rises to nearly half (47%) of those who are currently divorced themselves. In addition, 45% of those surveyed think that most divorces involve a visit to court, despite the increasing availability of non-court alternatives.

Surprisingly, financial factors are not seen as particularly important. Only 1% said that being financially better off than their partner would be the most important consideration should they separate.

As part of Family Dispute Resolution Week, National Family Mediation is promoting a full range of solutions for separating families. This includes promotional activities across England, Wales and the Channe Islands which are designed to help separating couples understand and explore non-court based methods of resolving issues arising on the breakdown of a relationship. This includes free mediation information surgeries at local Citizen’s Advice Bureaux, delivery of information sessions to couples in court and launching new office premises.

Chief Executive Officer of National Family Mediation, Jane Robey states: “Divorce or separation is never easy and families struggle to find the services they need. We help families to identify organisations that can provide the right services in their time of need”

All too often we see families who have struggled to find a solution to their problem and this has often cost them dear, both financially and emotionally. We aim to help parents find services that can help them more quickly so we can save them both time and money – but more importantly – they will be able to move forward with their lives and their children will be secure in the knowledge that both of their parents are working together despite the separation”.

National Family Mediation also has a range of videos which aim to show how family mediation can be beneficial:

  • Regular, positive contact with both parents is the best way to bring up children when parents separate. Tanya Victor who went to mediation with the father of her daughter, Georgia, talks about how it has improved life for all of them. John Hickman talks to his children everyday using FaceTime.
  • Family mediation helped Martin and Steven come to an amicable arrangement over property and pensions when their civil partnership broke down.
  • Brenda and her husband divorced using mediation, and they still live in the same house.
  • Terry and Susan Selby are divorcing after 30 years of marriage. Mediation has saved them thousands of pounds by sorting out a problem with their pension that neither of their solicitors had spotted.
  • Tricia Mason went to family mediation 15 years ago. She talks about how her two children have regular contact with their father. Her daughter Kate grew up with her parents living apart, and she talks about how important it has been for her to have contact with both parents over the years.

Please remember that legal aid is still available for family mediation.

All NFM Mediators are professionals with a wealth of skills and experience in family mediation and conflict resolution. They deliver family mediation at the highest accredited standard. All are qualified to provide legally aided family mediation on behalf of the Legal Aid Agency.

Legal Aid for Family Mediation goes unclaimed as the Courts are clogged with cases   Leave a comment

 The reforms to legal aid implemented in April 2013 are already taking their toll on the courts and families across the country. Recent reports in the national media have highlighted the problems, as the courts face increased numbers of applications, whilst referrals to mediation plummet.

Since April 2013, legal aid provided by lawyers for divorce, separation and child contact issues has been withdrawn except in cases where there is evidence of severe domestic abuse.  However, the government has failed to inform the public that legal aid for Family Mediation remains in place and is accessible through National Family Mediation and its member mediation services. To find your nearest member service visit http://www.nfm.org.uk

“The government had intended that greater numbers of people would try mediation before making an application to court but the failure to publicise services has had the opposite effect and people are heading straight to court because they do not know what else to do,” says Jane Robey, Chief Executive Officer of National Family Mediation.

“What the government didn’t see was that lawyers acted as gatekeepers for both mediation and the courts. Now the public is left with fewer options. Many are applying to court, and now more frequently as litigants in person”.

Marion Stevenson, NFM Family Mediation Trainer, Mediator and Professional Practice Consultant states that furthermore, “the drastic changes to the new legal aid eligibility rules for mediation have redefined and therefore reduced significantly who will get through the hoop, fundamentally reducing the take up of legal aid.  This means that fewer people are eligible for legal aid. This will seriously affect those who are unable to pay and are left vulnerable”.

Next year when the Children and Families Bill is enacted it is anticipated that it will be compulsory for anyone wishing to apply to court to have had a meeting with a qualified mediator – but implementing the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) legislation one year before the Children and Families Bill has shown a glaring lack of joined up thinking and has put many providers at risk. By next April it is unlikely that there will be a healthy network of National Family Mediation member services available to support the Children and Families Bill implementation and it is more likely that families will experience the postcode lottery of services with gaps and hot spots appearing across the country.

Relationship breakdown is stressful enough, but by not providing the right information to the public at the right time, this only adds to problem. For any person requiring support and assistance with their divorce, separation or child contact issue, we would encourage them to ring National Family Mediation to get the right information and save themselves a lot of confusion and turmoil in the process.

National Family Mediation has an 85% success rate for all those entering mediation. Our service can provide support to all members of the family, including children who feel stuck in the middle. Mediation provides longer lasting agreements than those made in the courts and is excellent value for money (National Audit Office report, March 2007).

For more information call Jane Robey on 0300 4000 636 or email: general@nfm.org.uk

Notes:

1.    The change in Legal Aid which came into being when the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of  Offenders Bill was enacted on 1st April 2013 was intended to divert couples going through separation, divorce or dissolution of civil partnerships away from legal proceedings and into alternative dispute resolution options, mainly mediation. A great deal of publicity was given to the removal of Legal Aid from family lawyers but little to the available mediation route.

2.    The unintended consequence of this is twofold:

a.    The inundation of the family courts with couples who have chosen to go straight to court to get a decision instead of using Mediation or some other form of dispute resolution. The number of cases applying to the courts in the period April to June 2013 increased by 27% across the country (Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service – Cafcass, July 2013). The proportion of these cases involving Litigants in Person i.e. those who have no legal representation is significantly higher than previously adding to the time each case takes in Court.

b.    The drop in the level of referrals received by mediation services across the country; two sources have been used to clarify the position and both lead to a similar conclusion, the period of review was April to June 2012 against April to June 2013.

3.    National Family Mediation (NFM – umbrella body for 47 independent not for profit family mediation services) and Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures obtained by a Freedom of Information (FoI) request produced the similar results. National Family Mediation has seen the number couples attending Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMS) had dropped from 6.2K to 4.5K a 40% decline and those moving onto mediation had declined by a further 22%. The FoI information indicates the numbers attending MIAMS nationwide dropped from 7.3K to 3.8K – a drop of 47% in the same period with the number of mediation starts declining by 26%. The NFM figures show a slightly more positive picture but still indicate a huge drop in the numbers accessing mediation. Legal Aid lawyers can still offer a minimal amount of support to those who have accessed legal aid through mediation, but its value is limited to £150 for a legal advice session and £200 for the drafting of a consent order.

Links to the articles noted above:

NFM Family Mediation Training Module 1 – Day 1   Leave a comment

Follow Kirsten Naudé on her journey through the NFM Family Mediation Training. She chats about her experiences throughout the process. This video focuses on learning outcomes from Day 1 of the training programme.

NFM Family Mediation Training Introduction   Leave a comment

The introduction to the video blog of a trainee mediator’s experiences during a three month Family Mediation Training Programme (hosted by National Family Mediation)
Also see http://www.nfm.org.uk