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When parents separate or divorce it often brings pain not only for the parties themselves but for the children. It is well know that divorce, if managed badly, can be very negative for children. Much research has been undertaken about children and those exposed to serious conflict are often left scarred from the experience.

So is there a way forward for people to resolve their issues and reduce the conflict and to come out of this traumatic time with respect for each other and being able to talk to each other for the sake of their children.

Family mediation is a means for people to make choices about their future and that of their children. It is not marriage guidance but it empowers people to make decisions about their own life and how they would like to deal with their future. Some may say it is therapeutic because it enables both people to voice their opinions and be heard in a controlled environment.

Mediation can be used to resolve financial issues or issues concerning children. Parents need to remember that once this process is over they are still parents to their children. Children are resilient – they can deal with relationship breakup and in fact, if their parents are constantly arguing the children may prefer an amicable situation where they can see both parents and do not need to get involved with their parents fights. The mediator can help sort out arrangements for the child to spend time with each parent, assist with holiday arrangements and any other practical arrangements.

For some time now there has been a government move to force all separating couples to seek mediation before going to court and this seems to have been reinforced last week when the Minister for Justice, Ken Clarke announced that the government hope to make it mandatory following a review of the family justice system.

So it is important to make sure that you seek help from a fully qualified mediator. A lawyer mediator has many advantages as they are cognisant of the law and they cannot provide advice but can give impartial guidance. The mediator will encourage you to try and leave anger outside the room and to build bridges so that you can learn to respect each other once again.

By family law solicitor, Gillian Davies