Yesterday, London Live very kindly interviewed Researching Reform on how to protect children during separation, and what alternatives currently exist for couples wanting to steer clear of the court process.
Presenter Anthony Baxter began by saying that January is often referred to as Divorce Month, due to the high rate of divorce queries lawyers see at this time. Anthony asked several questions about what the alternatives to hiring a lawyer might be and what options were in the best interests of children caught in the middle of a separation.
We mentioned that couples had a variety of options to choose from, including mediation. We also suggested that couples look to their inner circle of friends and family to see if they had anyone the couple as a whole trusted to be impartial and balanced, and support them in reaching sensible, positive solutions for themselves and their children.
We also explained that mediation, which has been encouraged by the government as a pre-emptive measure to help steer people away from the court process, is only helpful if the couple are comfortable enough with each other to sit down together and negotiate. For that to happen, a certain amount of trust is necessary. Trust though, is often missing in relationship breakdown scenarios. Deep feelings of pain and distress can often block any kind of negotiation, which is also the reason why the government’s mediation drive has failed so miserably. Mediation then, is not for high conflict couples, or couples where at least one party is vulnerable.
After discussing alternatives to the court process, we also addressed the myth that going to court was in some way about achieving justice, and getting some kind of closure for wrongdoings parties experienced in their relationship. The reality, as we explained, is that family courts do not offer justice in the conventional sense and the idea that there might be a winner and a loser is also misplaced. We told London Live that the process was not about supporting families’ emotional distress and helping them to right wrongs and that couples needed to bear this in mind when contemplating court proceedings.
We also spoke about ways to avoid distressing children during separation. One of the suggestions we offered was to try to look at the process from a child’s perspective. We mentioned that whilst it was natural and normal for deeply upset couples to consider using their children to hurt one another, taking a step back and asking whether their actions might also hurt their child was a practical and easy way to reconsider doing anything rash.
Thank you so much to Anthony and London Live for inviting us to come onto the show, it was a huge privilege to be able to discuss this area.
For more thought provoking stories, Editor’s Choice offers interesting articles, and catch London Live presenter Anthony over on Twitter, where he shares up to the minute news (and photos of his very sweet dog, Yolk).