Is mediation helpful?
21 August 2018 at 9:12 am #14843
My ex partner left me while I was pregnant and I didn’t hear a word from him for 4 months. Then 1 month before my due date he made contact and since then has wanted to be involved as dad. I have really struggled to trust him but have always allowed access to the baby for him and his family, I’m trying to focus on what’s best for the baby and that should be a loving relationship with both parents. However, the dad is constantly changing arrangements/agreements that we’ve made and when I complain about this he says I’m obstructing his relationship with his son. His demands are ever increasing and the tone in which he speaks to me is disrespectful or even aggressive because it’s his “right” to see his son whenever he wants (also takes weekends off seeing him when he fancies going away for the weekend). Our baby is only 4.5 months old so it’s early days but I’m considering mediation. This idea has been floated before but my ex backed away from it (not sure why). My only income is SMP so I want to know if any of you have experience of mediation and if it’s worth the money?
Thank you!21 August 2018 at 9:42 am #14846
Mediation isn’t legally binding, so it depends whether he’s going to go and if he’s going to be reasonable. It also depends how you mean “aggressive” – if it’s threatening it should be reported and if threatening then mediation is deemed inappropriate. You can withhold contact in whole or in part and tell him if he wants more he needs to go to mediation to set ground rules or else take you to court. He won’t be able to take you to court without mediation (unless there is violence involved), and the mediation will cost him. Either way he will end up with less than he has and more structure. So your best bet right now might be to restrict access pending mediation and if he gets threatening or physically aggressive then report it to the police straight away – this is the only way to protect your position down the line if he challenges you.
However, if he is amenable to discussion and negotiation (that means give and take, not just take) then mediation can be very successful, and whilst it doesn’t mean it can’t be broken, it does mean that if it later comes to court it will be reflected who broke the agreement and how.
All the best.22 August 2018 at 10:56 am #14873
Thank you for your very informed advice 🙂 He is aggressive in his demands and threatening by saying he’ll take me to court knowing that I can’t afford a solicitor but so far not physically aggressive or threatening. He earns £65k and I’m on SMP so money is his power tool. He’s taken the bank holiday off from seeing our son so I’ll see how he is the weekend after and then yes may insist on mediation.
Thanks again!22 August 2018 at 11:09 am #14874
That’s not really threatening – let him take you to court you WON’T need a solicitor AT ALL. I’m not being grumpy but a) you’re a woman and b) you’re the resident parent so believe me CAFCASS will be attacking him just for breathing. It will cost him not you. Not a penny. Don’t worry about that at all. PM me if you want more specific advice. As I say, start being tougher with him and fine if he wants to take you to court he will have to go to mediation first. If he acts the same there that will reflect badly on him, not you. TRUST me, he’s on a sticky wicket and money is absolutely NOT his power in this scenario.
Ok?22 August 2018 at 1:43 pm #14879
Ok! Great, thank you again for your advice, grumpy or not it’s been very reassuring!!23 August 2018 at 1:18 pm #14904
I would slightly disagree with the Cafcass comment! That’s not their purpose and they are not involved with all cases.
Re the threats of court – I wouldn’t worry about that. You can attend without a solicitor or barrister and get as good an outcome as paying tens of thousands. Mediation though can be for some effective, I the precursor for court, so realistically if he was going to pursue court he would have arranged himself! And it would be easy as if you cannot afford it, it would be signed off and he could apply directly to court for a child arrangements order.
You don’t have the money and tbh given his reluctance anyway, I personally wouldn’t push for the mediation at your expense, especially as IMO its not worth the hundreds it costs as nothing is legally binding in England.
With that in mind, my advice is as follows:
- Do not discuss this verbally only in written format to keep a papertrail
- Offer reasonable contact that you know is workable around his commitments – ideally at such a young age that would be two or three times a week for an hour or two, eventually building up to longer, less frequent blocks of time.
- Stipulate where and the timings of the contact and where your son is to be dropped at following contact. You set this and have this control so if you don’t want him at your home this is your opportunity.
- Explain that if he cancels or does not arrive for the contact or is late by 15 mintes, then he forfeits contact until the next planned session as per the schedule. You need to be strong and stick to this.
A lot of the control needs to be taken back and you are the only person able to do this! 🙂
As a side note, is he paying appropriate maintenance for his income? So in the region of a minimum of £132 a week.
HTH24 August 2018 at 7:17 pm #14959
Thank you Solomummy for your advice and reassurance. I had a call from the mediation service today (they left a voicemail) so maybe he is pursuing that after all. I have separately emailed him with my proposal for a contact agreement so see what happens next…26 August 2018 at 3:38 am #14996
I can really empathise with your situation and having just completed meditation, I would say it was incredibly helpful. I was really nervous about it to start with but the mediator was great at facilitating the conversation to focus on what was best for our daughter and the practicalities of caring for a young child.26 August 2018 at 9:25 am #14997
Thank you Betty 🙂
I have asked him if this is something he wants to pursue but am yet to hear back. I’m hesitant because it’s £200 pp per session and with the baby being so small any plan won’t be relevant for very long and as has been mentioned above it’s not legally binding anyway. I guess I’ll have to make a judgment about the cost vs an external person getting him to see that he can’t just click his fingers and get what he wants, that’s not how babies (or respecting boundaries) work…26 August 2018 at 11:37 am #15001
Publicly funded mediation: http://find-legal-advice.justice.gov.uk
Advice re: arrangements for children, mediation, going to court http://www.advicenow.org.uk
Support with any parenting problem: Family Lives 9am-9pm weekdays, 10am-3pm weekends FREE helpline 0808 800 2222 http://familylives.org.uk
Support with any parenting problem: Family Action 6pm – 10pm weekdays, 10am – 1pm weekends FREE helpline 0808 8020 2220 https://www.family-action.org.uk/what-we-do/children-families/parent-support/
Arrangements for children: http://theparentconnection.org.uk/
All worth a gander but the phone lines are a good way of getting advice about what to expect and how to behave. You should speak to the mediator about the funding. You may not need to pay.26 August 2018 at 7:48 pm #15013
Wow thank you so much!!29 August 2018 at 9:50 am #15111
It can help two to find a solution and in many cases, love again.
Communication is hard between 2 people, because even if we do communicate almost every day in our entire life most of us can really choke on words.
Most of us doesn’t know how to express our feelings in a way that it is appropriate and obvious not to mention objective.
The other things we often do is not saying anything bottling up feeling because we are nervous, we want to keep the peace for the same reason as we do not know how to express our feeling in a way that that will not erupt into a lava hot arguments.
Day by day we drift more and more away from each other simply because we do not know how to communicate……
So, finding a person who knows how to handle this can-do wonders. but only if both of your hearts are in the right place and willing to find that love that brought you together at the first place, because that love was special, as all love is special. When you love somebody, you respect them, you cherish them and you hold the other person to the highest regard. You would die for them. That cannot just disappear overnight and you cannot kill a powerful feeling like that, especially if you were together for several years. But like for anything in this you both required to this. You both need to be there wholeheartedly.