Family Mediation Week: Resolving family issues doesn’t mean going to court!

25 January 2024

January. A fresh start, new beginnings, and... a spike in divorces and separations. After the festive season comes to an end and reality sets in, couples who may have put their struggles on hold during the holidays come face-to-face with the need to make difficult decisions about their future.

This January, Changing Futures North East and Tees Valley Mediation join the Family Mediation Council in helping to promote Family Mediation Week. This nationwide initiative, running from the 22nd to the 26th, aims to raise awareness of a peaceful alternative to navigating family conflict.

For many, the words "family" and "court" bring up images of tension, cost, and drawn-out battles. But what if there was a way to resolve your differences with respect, communication, and, ultimately, control over your own decisions? A mediator can help.


Meet Alex and Sarah

Last January, Alex got in touch with us and wanted to receive his documents so he could go apply for a court order for his children, Sam and Ben, who he co-parented with his ex, Sarah.

Alex was adamant that mediation would not work as all communication with Sarah had completely broken down. We booked Alex in for an individual Mediation Intake and Assessment Meeting (known as a ‘MIAM’), so he could discuss his situation with our mediator.

During the meeting, our mediator Jane explained that mediation would help Alex let his voice be heard and help him save a lot of time and money. If mediation does not work out, then he can still go down the court route.

Alex felt a bit better that he now had options. He had dreaded going to court and had heard about the time delays in getting a court date, so this could be a practical alternative for him. We contacted his ex, and she agreed to try mediation. After Sarah’s individual appointment, we booked both in for a joint session.

As the mediator creates a safe space for open communication, Sarah and Alex were able to speak to one another without it leading to a shouting match. Sarah was frustrated with Alex as he often dropped Ben and Sam off late and he got defensive about it. Alex was sad as he felt he didn’t get to see his sons as often as he would like to, and it sometimes felt like Sarah was using the kids to punish him.

Because Alex and Sarah were finally speaking to one another, they could form an agreement that worked for both of them and the children. Alex agreed that he would try to be on time and improve communication with Sarah if he had to cancel or was going to be late. Sarah agreed that Alex should spend more time with Ben and Sam, and they now stay with Alex 3 nights a week. They both agreed that they will not speak bad about each other.

Sarah and Alex's story is evidence to the power of family mediation. It's a reminder that even in the middle of a painful separation, there is a solution that does not involve expensive solicitors and intimidating courtrooms.

If you feel like you could benefit from mediation, get in touch with our team by calling 01429 869247 or email


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