Separation and divorce are difficult for most families. Usually there’s a lot to sort out at the time of separation, or even years later. You may be worried about living arrangements, how you will parent apart or how you will make arrangements for your children.
People in the wider family (grandparents, aunts, uncles etc) are also affected by family breakdown. Mediation can be useful for all family members.
Mediation can help parents and families talk to each other, reach mutual decisions and agree on practical arrangements. It can help with...
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A couple of years ago my husband and I decided to separate. After 10 years our relationship had become empty and pointless. We have a son of 9 and 7 year old twin daughters. We were convinced we could, manage to share the kids, our work schedules and get by separately. After agreed we should separate, Bob told me he had feelings for someone at work.
He said he wanted to pursue a relationship with her. It was a shock and it really hurt a lot. When I told my best friend she was really angry with Bob. She was trying to be supportive, but kept saying it was his fault and he’d probably been cheating for a while. I was vulnerable, angry and easily influenced.
We tried to make plans for telling the children, but when the time came, my confused and hurt feelings surfaced and I couldn't hide my anger or control what I was saying. It became ugly and upsetting for the children. It was awful for everyone.
Bob moved to a flat near his work, the children only spent weekends there as it was small and crowded. When he started looking for a bigger place, it became clear the family home would have to be sold. I was very angry when he announced his new girlfriend was moving in and, she had already met our children. I felt powerless and he was to blame.
Things came to a head when shopping with my mother, we ran into Bob, our children and the girlfriend. I felt my blood boil and couldn't control what was coming out of my mouth. We ended up arguing in front of everyone. It was a terrible scene.
The children were all very upset. My mother called that evening and said I’d have to find a better way to deal with this for all our sakes. She was very insistent that I approach the mediation service, previously suggested by my solicitor.
I was reluctant, I couldn’t face sitting in a room with Bob, but that night as I dealt with my distressed children I took the first step. I told Bob I was contacting the mediation service and he should think about it.
I had my first appointment on my own with the mediator and he really put me at ease. He listened carefully to my story and helped me decide what issues I wanted to address first. He said he would see Bob on his own too and then we’d all meet together. He explained that mediation was about helping us to speak to each other, he wouldn't take sides or make any judgements. It was scary, but I felt so much better after talking to the mediator. I decided I wanted to continue and see if we could make things better for the children and maybe ourselves too.
Bob had his individual appointment and then we had our first joint meeting. It was stiff at first and I could feel Bob was uncomfortable. However we spoke about issues we thought we could do something about and went away feeling a lot lighter, at least I did.
We had several more meetings and I was able to explain my worries about his girlfriend and her involvement with the children. We agreed that, for the next few months, Bob would limit the time she spent with them and, as she would be living with him eventually, the children would see her as part of his family. It was tough but inevitable. I had to look to my own future and spend less time focusing on Bob and his girlfriend.
I'm not saying Bob and I are friends and maybe never will be, but now I know that our children really do have two parents looking out for them. When we need to, Bob and I can sit down together, look at a situation and decide what will work best for all of us. I think we both learned from mediation how to put our emotions to one side for a while and look at the issues honestly and realistically.