Agenda: Using mediation to help ease the trauma of divorce

In the first in a series  of articles looking at the wider implications on mental health for couples and children during separation Denise Laverty, accredited family law specialist and partner in our family law team comments on how choosing to mediate might help reduce trauma.

MANY of us have taken a knock this past year, in terms of our mental health. From an increase in anxiety to a dip in mood due to being separated from loved ones – the pandemic has hit us all hard, even if we have not suffered from the virus itself.

However, births, marriages and divorces have continued – and our experience of these life events has been affected by the current crisis. For those who have experienced a relationship breakdown at a time when they are unable to receive the usual face to face support and comfort from a friend or a family member, it will have been particularly hard.

Recent research by Resolution has found that 41 per cent who divorced within the last five years suffered mental health episodes including depression and anxiety during the process. While this number may also correlate with more people being prepared to admit to experiencing mental health challenges, the added isolation caused by the pandemic will surely see an increase in these figures.

Divorce is considered one of the most stressful moments in a person’s life. Naturally, conversations around separation and divorce can be contentious and highly emotional, particularly when issues of contact and/or finances are raised. Using mediation can ensure that these discussions are held in a constructive and respectful way to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety involved – and the subsequent impact on either parties’ mental health.

As the mediation process seeks to address and meet the priorities for a couple and their family it also allows more flexible solutions to be agreed upon, an outcome that isn’t always possible if left to the court to decide. This ability to be more creative can help a couple to find a middle ground that is acceptable to both with the added benefit of those discussions taking place in a smoother and less antagonistic environment and where each feels that they have retained some input into the outcome.

Whilst there are still significant pockets of the country where mediation is not locally available this doesn’t have to mean that those who would prefer to use mediation for their separation should feel restricted. The pandemic has shown us that we can access services wherever we live – and that is no different when it comes to separation. As we would do when shopping for a particular item, if our needs cannot be met locally, we look farther afield, usually digitally. Legal services are now no different, especially as mediation sessions are currently being held virtually and with the simplest of technology.

As everyday life continues to challenge many of us so we are learning to be smart with how and where we seek support while experiencing a significant life milestone. Now is the time for us to be kinder to ourselves; if part of that is seeking ways to reduce the stress and anxiety that separation brings then looking beyond our local community if required may provide that much needed support for our mental health.

(First published in the Herald 2nd March 2021)

If you would like further information regarding the topics discussed in this blog, please contact:

Denise Laverty by email: dlaverty@gilsongray.co.uk or by phone: 07841 921 985 / 0141 370 8130

Philippa Cunniff by email: pcunniff@gilsongray.co.uk or by phone: 07487 800 526  / 0131 285 4792

You can also visit our Family Law Team page by clicking here

The information and opinions contained in this blog are for information only. They are not intended to constitute advice and should not be relied upon or considered as a replacement for advice. Before acting on any of the information contained in this blog, please seek specific advice from Gilson Gray.

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