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Reaching an agreement – 3 tips for separating parents

Video Transcription

Siobhan Newton: I wanted to ask you, we often see parents when they're unable to reach an agreement on arrangements for the children and that's quite often when we refer them to a mediation service. Do you have three tips today for helping parents to reach an agreement?

Interviewee: I think my first three tips are going to be, go to mediation, go to mediation, go to mediation. But, in all seriousness, if they aren't able or the other parent won't go to mediation or can't go to mediation, it's really important to take, as far as you can do, a structured approach which is, try to break it down into, "We're going to deal with the arrangements for the first three months now and then we'll come back in three months time and we'll talk about the arrangements for the next three months." And not trying to get all of the arrangements made about everything in one meeting or two meetings.

If you're going to meet with the other person, try and meet in a safe place that's neutral and try to agree the expectations. So in terms of behavior, in terms of when the meeting is going to start, when it's going to end. And also, try to remember that that relationship is changing and that relationship can change into a constructive relationship, where people think, "We'll be friends for the sake of the children. We both love our children." But actually, you don't have to be friends. Parents need to be able to work together, see to the job at work, and that requires effort and commitment.

Siobhan Newton: So, setting those ground rules, first of all, is the most important. I guess if those aren't in place it could hinder things down the line in terms of that. That's really helpful. Thank you.