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mediation re the children

9 replies

jenny99 · 29/07/2013 22:21

Can anyone advise me as to what to expect please? I mean what to expect in terms of the experience, not the outcome. My stbx and I cannot agree with regards to the care of our children. They are 14 and 11. I have always been a sahm and he is usually out at work from 6am-9pm.

He is saying he will change his life and possibly his job (he is a professional working in the City), and would like the children to be with him week on/week off. He is saying he will get childcare if necessary from when they come home from school until he returns home.

I would like alternate weekends and that he has the children on a Wednesday on his 'weekend' and a Wednesday and Thursday on mine.

I just don't know what to expect in terms of formality, etc...little things like do we all sit around the table - will the mediator try to put us at ease (I assume so), and what happens if we just don't agree still? Anything regarding the actual experience would help me know what to expect. Thank you.

OP posts:
fabulousfoxgloves · 29/07/2013 22:37

Have you taken legal advice?

On what he would likely get if this went to court? Your hoped outcomes seem poles apart, and his position is premised on something which may or may not happen.

If you look at the CALM mediation site, it tells you what to expect.

I can't answer your question, as I have ruled it out as a way forward for reasons I won't go into.

jenny99 · 29/07/2013 22:51

Thank you for responding. Yes, I have had legal advice, and we have both instructed solicitors. We are at a complete stalemate re this and I really don't want to go to court, and I believe the next step for us is mediation.

I have been advised that week on/off is not a common practice unless it is agreed by both parties, and usually if both parents work full time - but please if anybody out there has any experience do say.

Thanks for recommending that website. I will check it out.

I respect that there are reasons you don't want to go into...hope it is not a mistake for me to do this.

OP posts:
zipzap · 29/07/2013 23:33

Do your dc have any thoughts on this - particularly the practicalities of being in two places for a week on week off vs alternate weekends vs other options - maybe their friends have experience of these and they can provide some input. Also take care to make sure that they realise that you would both love to have them full time, but that obviously you can't do that, so that you have to sort out something that works from the best practical basis.

Also - they are of an age when they still probably get invited to parties and maybe do swimming lessons or are in sports teams or drama productions etc etc - need to work out the practicalities of what happens if a dc is invited to a party for any of the scenarios or if one of you has a family gathering that is on one of your normal dc-free weekends/days. And what happens during the school holidays, half terms etc. And if one of you wants to take the dcs away, how it all fits together... Otherwise the dc will be resentful if they don't ever get to go to their friend's party or take part in the school hockey team. Or you will be upset that they can't go to your mum's 70th birthday party and see all your relatives as it is on dh's time, even though the dc are just sitting at home with him at work and a babysitter there with them. (Different if there are family parties on the same day; but then that would have been an issue even if you were still together). Or he is upset as he wants to take them away and can get some time off work but it isn't really his week... If you throw all these scenarios into the pot at the beginning it will be easier to see how it will all work out in the long run.

good luck!

RedHelenB · 30/07/2013 12:27

At those ages, childcare is less & less relevant anyway.

Lonecatwithkitten · 30/07/2013 13:15

At 14 and 11 I would ask them what they would like (without having said what parents think). My DD at only 8 ( very mature) made it very clear she wanted 50:50. She is with me Monday and Thursday nights and EOW, ExH the opposite. We both work full time I work longer hours on the days I don't have her so I can work shorter hours on the days I do have her. Though flexibility is the key to this we discuss holidays and so far we have been able to agree. Over a year we each have her 26 weekends, but often she has 3 with me and then 3 with him. This month I only have her 1 weekend next month I have 3.
Why do you think the children would benefit from being with you more is also a big question? All of this must be for their benefit.
Also different solicitors will say different things. What my solicitor emphasised was that contact must be child centric. In my area of the country 50:50 is actually very common.

jenny99 · 02/08/2013 12:17

Thanks for your answers...I like the Monday and Thursday with EOW suggestion. Seems much better than 7 days on/off. It's just so hard for me because I have always been with them and he has worked such long hours and now he all of a sudden wants to actually see his children during the week having previously often not seen them :(

OP posts:
Sidge · 02/08/2013 12:49

I found mediation very valuable but we didn't have the disagreements you have.

Our experience was that it was a very neutral environment, the mediators were experienced and kept things moving along.

I think your children are old enough to be included in the process and asked what THEY would like. You may find they have already considered a set-up that is acceptable to you. It's true that contact arrangements are very child-centric - hence why your children's input is valuable.

Soila · 03/08/2013 08:47

Hi Jenny99,

You've had some really great advice here.

I know, as a trained family mediator, that mediators are there to help you and your ex to find a solution that works for you and your family. They won't tell you what to do and any decision reached will come from the both of you.

They are also impartial and whatever you talk about will remain confidential.

With regards to the process, it really depends on the both of you. If you can sit in the same room, which sounds like you can, then it will be so otherwise there are other ways of working around that. Tell the mediator what you would like. It's your session.

There might be one or two mediators in the room with you. We always work in pairs in my practice.


What is important for them at this stage of development?

  • friends and social activities - maybe more so for the 14 year old - but they will continue to use family as base for support and guidance
  • their extra-curricular activities
  • pressures of school work might be increasing so need to keep this in mind when reaching an agreed parenting plan.


  • keep children's accessibility to school, friends, extracurricular activities as normal as possible. If these can remain the same then it would be great for them

  • your ex and you will need to think about flexibility which fit in with their needs and wishes. For instance, if there's a party and it's your weekend with them but it's easier for them to get to and from the party from your ex's then you might need to agree to them staying overnight there.

  • they will benefit more, like most children, from structure around evenings, weekends etc. They will need to know what's happening and when.

  • allow them to tell you what they would like but also remain the parents here and make final decision as it's a process where everyone needs to fit in with everyone else.

Hope that helps.

Good luck.

jenny99 · 07/08/2013 18:59

Thank you Soila for such a long detailed reply.

I am actually moving closer to their school (they are at the same school). I have said to the boys, as has their father, that social arrangements will come first, and if they are asked to go out etc, but it is their time with one of us, we would like them to put their social activities first - is this recommended advice?

What is your experience of a week on / week off? My solicitor is not in favour of it for several reasons. I think it won't offer continuity with their school work in terms of, how can I be involved if I miss a whole week? I have been their primary carer to date, with my stbx getting home between 8pm-9pm and therefore spending minimal time with them in an evening, and not seeing them at all in the morning, whereas I have been with them whenever they are not at school.

That's not to say that they won't benefit from more time with their father. It is just obviously also very hard for me because I don't want to divorce them, just him. His long working hours were always an upset to me and he wouldn't ever change, and now he says he will.

How much do you take the 'history' of the childcare into account when talking to a family such as ours?

I am upset that he would be having childcare on his proposed evenings, when I will be available to have my children - is this right?, or the best thing for them?

Thank you :|

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