Children need to see that their parents can get on
All children are affected when their parents separate, no matter what their backgrounds. The difference that parents can make is to the degree of the effect.
Research shows that behavioural problems, peer relationships, achievement in school, self-esteem, social competence and psychological adjustment are among the consequences of parental separation.
When parents choose court, the procedural adversary and negative feelings generated are more likely to trigger these problems. Children see themselves as half of each parent. If their parents are fighting each other, children may feel that their own identity is under attack. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
When parents choose mediation, children benefit. The future well-being of the whole family will be at the heart of the sometimes difficult decisions that need to be made. Children’s needs are at the forefront and parents learn to separate any negative feelings for each other from their parenting roles.
It's not just you who finds co-parenting difficult
When parents live together, they may talk about their children many times over the course of a day. They may discuss eating habits, bed times and which school to choose. They might have conversations about who is going to pick the children up from school, who is going to look after them when a child is ill and can’t go to school, or what presents they think their children might like for their birthdays. These conversations could take place at any time of the day, and may last from a few minutes over the washing up, to something longer.
Courts can't resolve parental conflict
While courts can make orders which determine parents’ parenting time with their children, they can’t order parents to learn what they need to do in order to make these decisions.
Most parents will have the capacity to make their own decisions. But misdirected hostility and an historic reliance on the courts means that when things go wrong, they tend to turn to judges instead of sorting things out for themselves.
Judges will be the first to admit that parents and not them are better qualified people to make these decisions. There is a better way.
Start parenting mediation
At Start Mediation we help parents create their own parenting plans. Separated parents who have lost the opportunity to speak daily about their children, will benefit from finding alternative ways of communicating. Coming to mediation to develop a parenting plan is one of the ways they can do this.
Meeting with a mediator provides an opportunity for parents to listen to each other and to work out how they should behave in any given situation. Knowing what’s expected of them makes it more likely that they will do what’s expected in any given situation. For example, in an emergency, when they meet a new partner or when one of them wants to change the routine arrangements.
Creating a parenting plan with the help of a mediator also allows them to practice and improve their communication. Improved communication can help them learn how to resolve any problem they are likely to face in the future.
What's in a parenting plan
A parenting plan might include the following:
- How to communicate.
- Routine living arrangements.
- Holiday arrangements.
- Other arrangements – celebration days for example.
- Schools and education.
- Pocket money and child support.
- Parenting styles.
- Making future changes as the children’s needs change.
The plan can be written or unwritten, the choice will be yours as parents.
Let us know what you want
Why you need a MIAM.
If you want to make a family court application, chances are you'll need a MIAM certificate to show that you've met with a mediator. MIAM is short for Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. MIAMs can only be conducted by specially accredited family mediators.
Maybe you want a MIAM but can't find a local mediator who can meet with you soon enough. Or you can't afford to take time off from work to visit a mediator. Well, you can meet with us over Skype video. All you'll need is a computer, tablet or smartphone with a webcam, a reliable Internet connection and somewhere private to take our video call.
We were the first mediators to offer an online MIAM service in 2012. It's understandable that we've gained a certain amount of expertise in understanding how to set up online consultations, as well as experience in delivering them.
How to get started
You are welcome to call us for a confidential chat. Or to speed things up, you can fill in our confidential online form (or download a form in PDF format to fill in by pen if you prefer). Your online form will provide important information about you and your problem or dispute. Once we have it, we'll get in touch with you to arrange your online appointment. We'll send you instructions explaining how to prepare.
What happens at a MIAM?
At your appointment time, you'll need to be in front of your computer or mobile device. One of our mediators (who will also be a non-practising solicitor) will video call you. We'll provide legal information and guidance about court and your other potential options. We'll help you understand how these work, how long they take and how much they cost. If you decide you don't want to mediate, we'll send you a MIAM certificate to enable you to go to court.
How much does it cost?
Each private confidential consultation costs £120. There's no VAT and no hidden extras. So it includes any initial confidential phone chat you might have with one of our accredited mediators, your online appointment with an accredited mediator and any follow up letters, emails and phone calls with you (and the other person). And of course it includes your MIAM court certificate should you want one.
What happens next?
If you decide you would like to try mediation, we'll offer to get in touch with the other person, inviting them to a similar meeting. Mediation can only start if both of you are willing to mediate. If you decide you don't want to mediate, we'll send you a MIAM certificate immediately by email to enable you to make a court application.