‘Mediation made divorce more respectful’

Anyone going through family breakdown knows how awful it can get but mediation can make divorce “more respectful”. It can help the separating couple to avoid unecessary arguments, according to one mother.

Natasha Brittan told Daybreak that sitting down with her estranged husband and an impartial referee with legal knowledge helped them to have a more amicable divorce.

“It just made everything more respectful, kinder and we did not want, or certainly I did not want, my divorce to define the rest of my life.

“We just wanted to look after our children, our wider circle of friends and family by having a good divorce and a respectful divorce.”

Want to know more about how mediation might work for you? Visit Sorting Out Separation for further details about mediation and other helpful sources of support.

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Changes to mediation laws for divorcing or separating parents

As of yesterday, separated parents will need to show that they have considered mediation before going to court to make arrangements for children.

From the 22nd April 2014, before you can make an application to court, you will need to show that you have considered mediation by going to a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).

Find out more about Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings

What is mediation anyway?

First of all, let’s remind ourselves about what mediation isn’t. Mediation is not about trying to get you back together. It’s about helping you sort out a range of family problems after you have decided to separate. It can also help when you have already separated and need to sort out new issues that crop up.
Mediation is a process that involves an independent third person, who will help you reach agreement with your child’s other parent. It could even help sort things out with other family members – for example, making sure that the children spend time with their grandparents.

What about the costs of mediation?

The cost of mediation differs depending on how many sessions you need. But, the good news is, you may be able to get legal aid for family mediation.
And, if you are eligible for legal aid for family mediation, you will also qualify for some legal support once you start the process (as long as your circumstances don’t change in the meantime).

Find out more about funding for mediation

If you can’t attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting

If mediation is not suitable for your situation – for example, if there are domestic abuse issues – you will need to provide the court with a completed FM1 form to show that you have considered it. A mediator can complete the form or you can do it yourself.

Still not sure if mediation is for you? Come back tomorrow to hear a real-life story of someone who made mediation work for them.

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How I coped with childcare emergencies as a working parent

Hi – it’s Joanna from DWP Child Maintenance. One of my three children was off school today because she wasn’t well. I had to juggle looking after her with doing my job, and it reminded me about how tricky it can be to manage work and responsibility for children when you are on your own.

Childcare can be difficult to find and expensive too. Once children finish primary school they are still too young to be left alone but too old for the play schemes which might be in the local area. One of my children has a disability too which can make finding care even harder.

What always surprised me though was the way I managed to work things out with my employers over the years. I was lucky that they gave me the flexibility to do some work from home or change my hours to cope with school holidays and children’s absence from school when they were unwell. It meant that I was able to balance work with family life even though I was on my own and that meant we had a little more money to go around.

You might not know this but there are also laws in place to help, such as the right to take a little unpaid leave to take care of dependants in emergencies. Have a look at this information on the Gov.uk website which gives you all the details. You could contact your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau if you would like to know more or speak to someone. Have a chat with your employer too. You might get more help than you expect.

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Charlie Sheen tries mediation

Looks like life is imitating art for Anger Management star Charlie Sheen, who is trying mediation to sort out his Child Maintenance issues.

Charlie and his ex Denise Richards have been fighting for years over how much money his ex should get and that she should vacate one of his many houses, but it seems that mediation is the only option for the feuding pair.

Mediation doesn’t have to be the last resort when you split from a partner and is not just for divorcing couples.

It’s a way of sorting out a range of any family problems including with other family members.

Using a family mediator can also be faster and cheaper than going to court.

Don’t wait for things to get worse like Charlie, – check out the sorting out separation web app for information on mediation and for help and support on all other aspects of separation.

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Gwyneth and Chris commit to co-parent

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced today that they are to separate.

It is encouraging to see that even though the romantic relationship has come to an end, the couple are still committed to working together for the sake of their children.

In their blog, Gwyneth and Chris wrote:

“We are…and always will be a family, and in many ways we are closer than we have ever been. We are parents first and foremost, to two incredibly wonderful children.”

Gwyneth and Chris describe their split as “conscious uncoupling” – which is all about the ending of one romantic relationship and the beginning of a co-parenting relationship.

There are lots of tools and information out there about co-parenting to help other separated couples going through similar experiences learn to work together.

Check out the sorting out separation web app which provides help and support about parenting after separation and useful links to where you can get further information if you need it.

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Maintenance payments too JLo?

It just goes to show that issues around child maintenance affect everyone, including celebrities.

With JLo’s ex Marc Anthony refusing to increase his maintenance payments and Beyonce’s dad claiming he’s paid more maintenance than he should have, it raises a question for all separated parents – how much do children really cost?

How much do children cost?

On average the cost has increased by 4% over the past year alone.

If you find yourself getting into a wrangle over how much to pay why not download the cost of raising your child fact sheets from Child Maintenance Options.

The factsheets will help both parents think about what a child needs, what they will cost and who will pay for them. This can be a useful starting point if you are thinking of making a family based arrangement with your ex.

Keep Track!

If you do make an arrangement which everyone is happy with make sure you keep a record of all the payments you have made.

Don’t end up in a similar situation to Beyonce’s father who is being challenged in court on how much maintenance he has been paying to his ex-partner.

Why not visit the Child Maintenance Options Website for more information about the costs of raising children and support about making arrangements between you and your ex that make sure your child gets the financial support they need.

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Do you know how you can save money on your child maintenance arrangement?

When you have children and separate from their other parent, having enough money to support them is probably one of your main concerns. Child maintenance can make a big difference. A Q&A from Dad.info was posted last week, which tells you how you can save money AND still support your child financially.

Child maintenance is changing

In the past, parents could apply to the CSA, who worked out and collected child maintenance from the paying parent and passed it on to the receiving parent.   Times are changing though – the CSA no longer accepts new applications and the government has introduced the Child Maintenance Service as its replacement.

The Child Maintenance Service works differently to the CSA.  For a start, later this year there will be a fee of £20 for making an application. Both parents will also pay a fee if they choose to use the Collect & Pay service.

Dad.info have worked with DWP to answer questions posted by real parents.  This Q&A tells you how fees and charges will work, but more importantly how you can avoid them by making a family-based arrangement or choosing Direct Pay if you do apply to the Child Maintenance Service.

Talk to your ex now to avoid the charges

Family-based arrangements are where both parents work together and agree what should be included in the child maintenance arrangement between themselves – avoiding both the application fee and any collection charges.

Direct Pay is where the Child Maintenance Service works out how much child maintenance a paying parent must pay.  Both parents then agree between themselves how and when payments are made – avoiding the collection fees.

Read Dad.info’s Q&A today and save yourself time and money in the future.

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