4 December 2023

Mediation and the Festive Period – How to approach matters when there is no plan

Mediation and the Festive Period – How to approach matters when there is no plan

The holiday season is a period of happiness, celebration and time spent with family. For parents who have separated, however, it can be a time filled with anxiety and tension and deciding where and with whom the children are to spend the Christmas period can add to this stress. In England and Wales, there are various legal avenues to resolve such disputes, with mediation being the most favourable option.

This blog firstly explores how mediation can play a part in resolving issues surrounding child arrangements during the festive period to ensure that the joyfulness surrounding the season is not lost and then looks at how to approach circumstances when there is no plan in place.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a process whereby the parties agree to join a neutral third party, the mediator, to discuss the issues in dispute and help reach a resolution. Neither the mediator nor the parties dictate what is to happen, but discussions and negotiations are facilitated in a useful manner to help parties reach a mutually acceptable outcome.

What is the process of mediation?

The first step is for each party to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) whereby the mediator will explain the process and assess whether mediation suits the circumstances. If, after the MIAM, both parties and the mediator feel it is suitable, a series of joint sessions will be arranged to discuss each situation.

The sessions are confidential, and the role of the mediator involves ensuring that each person has an equal chance to share their views and concerns. The different options will be explored and hopefully, an agreement will be reached. If so, the mediator will draft a document known as a Memorandum of Understanding which sets out the terms of the Agreement. Whilst this is not legally binding, it can be converted into a Court Order if required.

What are the benefits of mediation?

Compared to litigation, mediation is usually quicker and less expensive than going to Court. Whilst the idea of spending time with your ex-partner may be stressful, compared to going to Court it is often a much less traumatic experience.

Mediation allows for the parents to have control over the situation as there is not a Judge deciding for them which is hugely beneficial when looking at sensitive issues involving children.

Mediation encourages communication and can help aid cooperation between the parents which in the long run can improve the co-parenting relationship which can only in turn benefit the children.

What steps should I take to help make an agreement for the festive period?

If the above information regarding mediation seems like something that could help resolve your situation, then you should take the following steps to ensure a less tense festive period:-

Contact a mediator

This can be done by looking at the Family Mediation Council or National Family Mediation websites. Alternatively, we can provide a list of mediators we have previously worked with. Seeking a mediator should be done as early as possible to allow enough time for the process.

Attend your MIAM

Both parents are required to do this for the mediation process to proceed. It is a good opportunity to ask questions and ensure it is the right path for your family.

Prepare for the joint Mediation sessions

Think about what you want to get out of the sessions and the overall agreement and decide on the extent of the compromises that you would be willing to make. You may wish to seek legal advice at this stage so that you can fully understand your rights and responsibilities.

Participate in Mediation

The most important thing is to stay open-minded and to listen to the other parent’s point of view whilst focusing on what is in the best interest of the children. The aim is to find a solution that works for everyone, most importantly the children involved.

Implement the Agreement

Ensure you understand the terms and how to implement them. If you wish to make the Memorandum legally binding, then seek legal advice as to how this is done and the pros and cons of doing this.

Family Law Solicitors in Surrey

Disputes regarding children are always going to be challenging, especially with the heightened pressure of periods like Christmas where the focus is primarily on ‘having a good time’. Mediation can provide a cooperative route forward to resolve any issues without the possible nastiness of Court applications.

Focusing on the best interests of the children is paramount and Mediation can definitely help promote this, ensuring that the holiday season is a happy one for everybody. Contact Howell Jones, family law solicitors in Surrey, for more information.

our lawyers deliver an excellent quality service, independently recognised by The Law Society and our many returning clients.

Skip to content