Child Issues Case Study

After 15 years of marriage, followed by one year of separation, Claire and Jason attended mediation in an attempt to resolve their childcare issues. Since leaving the family home, Jason had had almost no contact with their two children, Harry, 11, and Amber, 8. He desperately wanted to be a part of their lives once more, but the separation process had become so bitter and conflicted that he could no longer communicate with Claire.

Being unable to discuss matters of their own accord, Claire and Jason agreed to try mediation. At the first meeting they began by sharing their concerns. Jason believed that Claire was cutting him out of their children’s lives, and was doing so in order to hurt him. As a result he felt upset and powerless, and was very anxious to re-establish contact with them. On the other hand Claire felt that Jason, in leaving the family, had abandoned his children. She was also worried they would be distressed by Jason’s new partner, and did not want them forming a relationship with her.

After expressing their fears, the mediator helped Claire and Jason put aside their personal pain and anger and instead focused the attention on what would be best for the children. In doing so, they realised that they both had a common cause – namely, the happiness and well-being of their children. This shared ambition gave them a strong foundation to work from, and together they began to consider how to reduce the anguish Harry and Amber were going through.

Consequently Claire realised that just because her relationship with Jason had broken down, did not mean that her children should be denied a father. She agreed that he should have contact with them and be involved in everyday decisions. Jason also appreciated for the first time why Claire was nervous about his new girlfriend, as she did not want Harry and Amber to become attached, only for this relationship to collapse in the near future. He agreed to be sensitive about the introduction of his partner, and would only do so when he and Claire felt the time was right.

With these broad brushstrokes in place, the mediator gave Claire and Jason a parenting plan to prepare for the next meeting. At the following session this was discussed in greater depth, and the mediator set out the various options for contact arrangements, taking into account their working routine and the children’s activities. Soon enough a comprehensive arrangement had been devised. Their plan gave them both time with Harry and Amber during the week and at weekends, and also clarified how holidays and special days would be shared.

By the end of the meeting even the finer details had been agreed upon, such as how the children would be transported to and from each parent’s house and how Harry and Amber would be allowed to contact Jason. Afterwards the mediator recorded these proposals in a Memorandum of Understanding, which Jason and Claire took to their separate solicitors. Once legal advice had been sought and both parties were happy, the document was turned into a legally binding contact order.

Within a matter of months, Jason and Claire were able to settle those childcare issues that had remained unresolved for over a year. Both were surprised that only two meetings were needed, and were also shocked at how easily decisions had been reached. Mediation had allowed a line of communication to be rebuilt between them, ensuring they were able to work together to look after the best interests of their children. This had a positive impact upon all the family, particularly upon Harry and Amber, who were able to adjust to the new set-up happy in the knowledge that they had the love and support of both their parents.

All Issues Case Study

After 22 years of marriage, David and Anne’s relationship broke down irreparably. David, a telephone engineer, temporarily moved into his parent’s house. This left Anne, a part-time shop assistant, and their two daughters (aged 12 and 7) in the family home.

Having been separated for two months, David was eager to be released from the mortgage, as he needed the capital to buy another property. He was also extremely scared about losing contact with his daughters, and he wanted to remain a major part of their lives. On the other hand Anne was anxious to stay in the family home with the girls, Sarah and Jennifer. However, having given up full-time work when Sarah was born, she had very little of her own money.

These conflicts put enormous strain on the entire family, and David and Anne found it very difficult to communicate with each other. And while they wanted to maintain an amicable relationship for Sarah and Jennifer, they simply could not resolve their various financial and childcare issues. Instead any conversation would end in argument, making everyone angry and upset.

Realising they could not reach important decisions on their own, they individually attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. This allowed them to explore the possibility of mediation as a method of dispute resolution. Afterwards they were both keen to proceed down this route, as it offered a way to solve their problems with the least amount of disruption possible.

After signing an Agreement to Mediate, David and Anne were ready for their first meeting. With the mediator’s guidance, they discussed what they would like to achieve. Both agreed their primary aim was to prioritise the needs of their daughters. With this focus in mind, David and Anne agreed they wanted separate accommodation in the local area so the children could continue at the same school. If financially viable, the children would remain the family home with Anne. They also agreed the settlement would be fair to each other, and would allow each to move on with their independent lives.

With these goals in place, the mediator moved the discussion on, helping David and Anne consider the options available. By the end of the session, a firm parenting plan had been reached. They arranged when David would see the children, how holidays and special days such as Christmas would be shared. The next step was to deliberate their financial issues. The mediator took them through the various forms, explaining what financial information needed to be obtained before the next meeting. This included details regarding each individual’s income and estimated future expenditure, as well as assets and liabilities.

Once each party has completed this financial disclosure, David and Anne were able to objectively assess their financial situation. During the second meeting they investigated the different possibilities and discovered that in splitting their joint assets and liabilities, Anne would be able to remain in the family home and take on a mortgage in her own name. David would then be able to buy himself a two bedroom flat big enough for the children to stay.

With these financial matters agreed upon, the mediator drafted a Memorandum of Understanding which detailed the resolutions that had been made. In the third and final session David and Anne read through the proposals and, when they had both sought independent advice from their solicitors, had the Memorandum turned into a legally binding document.

Within six months of separating, David and Anne had successfully resolved all the issues relating to their pending divorce. Just three sessions of mediation were required, ensuring the emotional and financial stress associated with separation was kept to a minimum. More importantly, David and Anne were able to preserve a peaceful relationship, helping protect not only their own feelings, but also those of their two children.