Separating: What you need to know
Breaking up a relationship is a big decision, here are some important things to consider
If things have reached a point where you and your partner are questioning whether you still want to be together, first things first, it’s worth thinking about getting some professional relationship support.
Exploring avenues such as counselling really can help to get your relationship back on track no matter what stage you're at - whether you've just started out together or you've been together for a good few years. Ideally, professional relationship support should be your very first port of call when things get tough and in an ideal world, relationship counselling would be more widely available (and free!) to help normalise it as an option for all couples. Sadly, it seems that for many people, seeking help about children and parenting is still way more acceptable than seeking help about couple relationships - yet many parents will readily admit that their adult relationship impacts their children and that having children impacts their adult relationship!
Even once you have decided to end the relationship, family mediation can be the most constructive and cost-effective way of agreeing about children, money and property.
Of course, they’ll be lots that needs to be considered and decided when you separate but mediation helps make sure that you both remember that:
A parent is forever whether you live with your children or apart
Although the two of you are separating, mediation can help you both to begin a new kind of relationship with each other
Communicating and agreeing how things will work differently can be easier through a third party and help to lessen tension
If you are in dispute with your ex, or having difficulties agreeing your separation you may be considering court proceedings after you separate. You are usually required to consider mediation before you can apply to a court to hear your case and this involves going to a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAMs). The aim of the meeting is to see if mediation could be used to solve your difficulties, rather than going straight to court.
What is a MIAM Meeting?
The meeting usually last 45 minutes and is paid for (unless you are eligible for legal aid to cover the cost). The aim of the meeting is for the mediator to determine if your case is suitable for mediation (and then advise you on next steps). If the mediator considers that your case is not suitable for mediation, they will supply you with a form that confirms that you and your partner have attended a meeting so that a court can then allow you to issue proceedings.
Mediation is a much cheaper, quicker and less stressful than going to court and mediators are skilled at helping you discuss future arrangements for you and your family in a safe and confidential environment.
Mediation will help:
Understand the options available to you.
Decide of the first steps to take in respect of
Arrangements for your children and appropriate child maintenance payments
Housing issues and how to settle other finances such as debt, pensions and mortgages
How to find local Family Mediation Services
National Family Mediation provides services in over 500 locations across England and Wales.
To find your local service simply type in your postcode at www.nfm .org.uk/local or telephone 0300 4000 636.
If you live in Scotland, go to Parenting across Scotland for information and advice. If you live in Northern Ireland, go to NI direct.