Christmas is often seen as a great time for families but if your family has reached breaking point, it can definitely tip you over the edge.
January and February have always been a busy time for divorce lawyers and the start of 2014 may well see the usual increase in the number of people starting divorce proceedings.
Recent figures show that 42 per cent of all marriages will end in divorce but is the traditional route of each party going off to their own lawyer to get advice the best way to go about dealing with separation or is it time we had a look at whether there is a better way, which takes less of a toll on finances and emotions?
Society is changing for sure, 60 per cent of families with children still have married parents but the fastest growing family type is couples who live together without getting married.
There are 1.9 million lone parents with dependant children and 1.2 million families with children where the parents are not married. The figures for 2011 show that 34 per cent of all weddings were second marriages for at least one of the couple and there are close to 1 million children living in a step family.
Much of our divorce law is routed in an Act of Parliament which came into force in 1973. It’s little wonder that the legal framework for dealing with divorce and separation is straining to cope and the government are actively seeking to promote better ways of dealing with how to sort out arrangements for children and what to do with property and finances when couples and families separate.
Deciding to see a family mediator together with your spouse or partner puts the couple in control so they can decide what is best for them, or at least what is the least painful way of going about it.
Most couples are mindful of the effect of separation on children and this gives them the opportunity to put in place something that will work for their whole family unit and minimise the impact on the children.
Mediation is not going to be right for everyone but I am passionate about people being given the chance to sit down and work out together how they want to move forward following divorce or separation, maybe even before each of them gets any legal advice.
Mediators and lawyers can, and often do, work well together and clients often need legal advice whilst they are attending mediation.
It’s more about the decision to deal with any disputes together round a table rather than setting up separate camps from the start.
Kate Brooks is a Resolution-trained family mediator who runs First Choice Mediation based at Harborough Innovation Centre. She is also an experienced divorce lawyer with Woolley & Co.
For more information about family mediation call Kate on 01858 322028 or 07792 971746, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.firstchoicemediation.co.uk.