Here is the big question. Does anyone win in family court?
In our experience, not parents, and certainly not children. Our colleagues at Dad Info, support thousands of parents at every stage of separation. Listening to them, it’s difficult not to be sympathetic to the bruising experience separation and divorce can be for far too many families. Especially when they have gone through lengthy court proceedings. The experience of going to court can too often leave parents in conflict, children caught in the middle of an adversarial process that ultimately fails families. The cost of court both financially and emotionally should, wherever possible (and it isn’t always possible) be avoided.
Under new plans, the government is consulting on making mediation mandatory, and suggesting fining parents if they refuse mediation.
Avoiding an acrimonious split.
Our Chief Exec, Ian Soars speaks from the heart when he talks about separating parents. “As CEO of Spurgeons I also volunteer for a charity working with couples who are recovering from divorce. My role is to help them address the pain and trauma that the separation has had on them. Too often, in the vortex of an acrimonious split when our emotions are focussed on trying to keep our lives together, jobs on track and wrestle with solicitors (and often whilst experiencing tremendous pain and loss) we can miss the needs of our children”.
That certainly mirrors the experiences of parents who use our forum. As Ian reflects, “The reality of the court system is that once the need for an adversarial “win” is established and direct communication between parents stops, there is an inevitable spiral of conflict between the parents, and no-one suffers this more than the children”.
So what is the answer?
This week the government opened a consultation into looking to make mediation compulsory? They welcome the thoughts of all parties involved, and we recommend dads that you add your views. The consultation asks, should mediation be mandatory. Which might seem draconian, but given the backdrop of delays in court, harms to children and costs, we can see deep merit in them. As Ian puts it, “anything that keeps separating parents away from the courts and communicating well is a good thing. Despite the pain of trying to make it work”.
Find more information, and an opportunity to share your thoughts on the consultation here: Supporting earlier resolution of private family law arrangements – Ministry of Justice – Citizen Space