Child arrangements, school holidays and Mediation
The Easter school holidays are fast approaching. This can be a busy time, for parents who may be working hard to meet deadlines ahead of annual leave over Easter, planning and shopping for Easter family/friend get togethers, planning Easter egg hunts and even making Easter bonnets for the children (my questionable art skills mean it is much easier to buy one!).
For separated parents, another thing that needs to be organised and arranged in advance of the school holidays, is the time that their child/children may spend with each of them during the holiday. This can include not only the Easter holidays as a whole, but also whether there will be any specific arrangements for the days over the Easter weekend itself too.
In my experience as a family law solicitor and mediator, we are often contacted very close to school holidays, where parents have been unable to agree arrangements for the holiday period. This is understandably stressful for parents, as it creates uncertainty and makes it is difficult to plan for the children over the holidays.
Parents may then feel frustrated that the Court system may not be able to help them swiftly either. Whilst the Court will of course prioritize urgent cases, for example, where a child’s safety or wellbeing may be at risk, a disagreement between parents over how school holiday time should be shared would be highly unlikely to be considered as an urgent case by the Court. This means any parents who may be considering making an application to Court to ask the Court to determine how a specific school holiday should be arranged, are likely to find the school holiday will have passed by the time they attend a hearing in respect of their application (unless the application has been made well in advance).
How can Mediation help? What are the advantages?
- Time, speed, convenience – Mediation is a voluntary and flexible process, so if Mediation is suitable, joint sessions for parents to discuss child arrangements can take place quickly, arranged around the parents’ availability and timescales. Mediation can take place in person or by video – whatever works best for the parents.
- Improving communication – Court proceedings, by their very nature, can sadly, often worsen communication between parents and potentially decrease trust between parents too. In contrast, Mediation can help improve parents’ communication with each other and the Mediator will help focus parents on the best interests of their child/children.
- Bespoke and tailored – the parents can set the agenda for Mediation sessions, meaning they can take the time to prioritize and discuss the matters that are important to their individual family circumstances. This is in contrast to the Court process as the Court’s time is limited and so the Court may not be able to review matters in the level of detail that parents wish.
- Cost – Mediation sessions are significantly cheaper than the legal costs/legal representation associated with Court proceedings.
- Decisions – The choices and decisions at Mediation are made by the parents – the Mediator will not tell the individuals what to do or impose an outcome on them. The Mediator will use their professional skills and work hard to help the parents discuss matters and reach solutions and proposals.
- Less stressful – often, people find Mediation significantly less stressful than going to Court. The Mediator uses their professional skills to help the parents discuss, try to find solutions and work out arrangements.
If you would like to find out more about Mediation and how it might help with child arrangements, please do not hesitate to contact our Mediator, Honor Giles, on 01565 743 302 or firstname.lastname@example.org Honor is always happy to have an initial chat to provide further information about Mediation.
Please also see Honor’s detailed blog about the Mediation process and what it involves.