When you are facing a family separation it can leave you feeling completely lost unable to recover. You may experience a range of emotions such as depression, anger, relief, guilt, sadness, fear, jealousy and isolation. It is often hard to take stock and know how best to help yourself and your children.
Many people feel that using a solicitor is all they need. A solicitor is there to give you legal advice. In mediation, the mediators role is to help you make decisions between you and to consider the emotional and practical issues as well as the legal process. Talking face to face is never easy, especially when you are coming to terms with the loss of your relationship and how best to manage a major transition which not only affects each of you but may also profoundly affect your child or children.
In order for you to get the best emotional and practical support, you may find it helpful to consult a counsellor, life coach, family consultant, accountant, financial advisor or mortgage consultant to work with you prior to, alongside or after your mediation process has concluded. Taking care of your emotional health whilst you are going through this difficult process is vitally important.
A significant number of people who have relationship issues find their emotional health is negatively impacted. This can cause anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and these emotions can cause physical symptoms making you feel unwell. Turbulent times can create a period of uncertainty and isolation and counselling can provide a safe and confidential space for you to talk through your feelings in a supportive environment. Talking with a professional who is not directly involved in your day to day life may help you obtain coping strategies. I find that clients who are also seeing a counsellor are often able to move forward, find insight and understanding to be able to respond better to their situation which can also make the mediation process more valuable for them.
A counsellor may help you explore whether there is a way of working through your issues and moving forward as a family or helping you manage a separation. You can find a counsellor or psychotherapist close to you by searching online at www.counselling-directory.org.uk or the find a therapist website directly at www.itsgoodtotalk.org.uk
I can also make recommendations as to counsellors clients have found helpful to work with over the years but ultimately choosing a counsellor who suits you is key.
Family Consultants can help you individually or together with the personal, emotional and practical issues surrounding your separation or divorce. On separation, it is not uncommon for one person to be further along the road to a new life than the other. This can be really difficult to manage if you are the person who feels left behind. A family consultant can help put both of you in a position to be able to make informed decisions about your future.
A family consultant provides short term guidance and support through a family transition. They can provide face to face support or support over the telephone or any combination of ways that can be tailed to your individual, joint or family needs.
Family consultants will work with parents in a range of practical ways. Many parents feel worried or guilty about the effect the situation is having upon their children. These and other emotions can prevent you from being able to parent effectively. Forming a new parenting relationship that is enduring and provides continuing security for your child is difficult to do and many feel impossible without some support. It can be reassuring to have some help in tackling how to build your new family relationship in a way that will benefit your child or children.
During your mediation, a family consultant can also be present during the process. I work with a number of experienced family consultants and will discuss the involvement of a family consultant with you if I feel this may be appropriate. Alternatively, they can work with you outside of the mediation process which can be equally helpful.
Accountants and Financial Advisors
If you need to resolve the financial issues arising from your separation, in addition to emotional and practical support, you may also find it helpful to seek advice from an accountant or financial advisor. There will be some big decisions ahead about how you may be able to move forward financially and you will need to consider all of your options in relation to your income, your home, your other assets, your pensions, life policies and your business. Where there are financial matters to be considered, you will be asked to collate financial information and complete a financial form known as a Form E. This can be daunting. I will help you during your mediation sessions with this but you may also want some assistance with things like budget planning, valuations, pensions and any company issues which an accountant or independent financial advisor can provide.
If your financial matters are particularly complex, I may recommend that an accountant, pension advisor or independent financial advisor be invited into the mediation process. I find that this can work well especially where there are pensions to be considered. I have a number of professionals who have worked with me in the mediation process and understand the particular issues you face on separation.
Although I previously practised as a family lawyer, my role within your mediation process is to remain impartial. I will not therefore give you legal advice but I will give you legal information so you will benefit from a mediator who has worked in the legal profession. The benefit of appointing a mediator is that it can make your legal process more cost effective as I can help you find the tools to resolve your own dispute rather than a traditional approach where you and your former spouse or partner each instruct your own individually solicitors to resolve matters on your behalf.
I will recommend that you seek legal advice from a solicitor as you move forward in mediation. I recommend appointing a specialist family solicitor who is a member of Resolution (committed to resolving family disputes in a non confrontational way). It may be that there is a novel point of law where you may both differ in your opinion as to how best to resolve matters or you may just need some help formulating proposals and considering your options and need guidance. Your solicitor will be able to help you with this advice. All I ask is that you understand that your solicitor will, quite rightly, want to give you advice as to what is the very best you can achieve. This will no doubt conflict with advice your spouse or former partner receives from his or her solicitor. It is often more helpful to have advice not only as to what is the best that you can achieve if you were to go to Court but what are your reasonable goalposts for settlement and what are the areas that are most important for you. This can be more beneficial in mediation where I will be helping you both to find a compromise.
It is not my practice to speak to your solicitors individually during the mediation process as your discussions are confidential. I will certainly update your solicitor as to where you are at in the process should you wish me to do so. Occasionally, I may invite your solicitors into the mediation process if I feel that this would be helpful.