Category

Finance

Should I go self-employed?

By | family, Finance, Work employment
by Emma Cleary
Ten2Two Sussex

We’re told top talent is scarce to find at the moment. As a flexible recruiter, Ten2Two Sussex has lots of brilliant professional talent on its books. But not everyone can find the flexible employment they’re seeking as they care for children or ageing parents.

1. Going self-employed to find flexibility
For those working mums seeking part-time jobs, and finding it a tough act to get into, it’s no surprise many turn to self-employment as their main way to keep the balls juggling in the air. If you’re able to go freelance or self-employed, it’s an attractive option where school holidays are concerned.

Not only that, but when the school plays or assemblies crop up, you’re able to plan your hours and be there without feeling like you’re asking your boss for another ‘favour’.

2. Looking at the long-term picture
Many working mums seeking part-time jobs often start their own businesses, as we know. It helps to fill a gap of time while children are very young and often sleeping indiscriminately. But if the business is far removed from your original line of work, and you find that if you want to get back into that work later on, it’s not always the easy option after all.

While the initial years of child rearing can be tougher than any paid job you’ll ever do, they don’t last forever. We say you should always take a long-term view of your career.

3. Talk to a flexible recruiter
If you’re considering your career options after starting a family, self-employment isn’t necessarily the only option on the table.
More and more flexible recruiters are appearing.

Ten2Two has been operating for eleven years now as a flexible recruitment agency in Sussex and our role is specifically to recruit for professional jobs that are local. Register with Ten2Two and we’ll tell you about professional roles that are suited to your skills and experience.

4. Think wage negotiation
A tough market brings other employment concerns, like wage negotiation. The self-employed professionals we know are often being asked to reduce their rates. This can affect confidence, forcing the contractor to feel a lack of self-worth or recognition.

When you work at home by yourself, this isn’t so great. But hold your nerve – if you’re being asked to earn less than you did ten years’ ago, there’s something wrong. Say no and you won’t look back – other work usually turns up. Say yes, and it could get sticky, particularly if you face other obstacles down the line.

5. Can you work from home?
When you’re self-employed, there’s a strong chance you’ll be working from home. Yes, you can catch up on the washing, but some people find it hard to focus at home and others miss the companionship of having colleagues to talk to.

It can also make certain parts of a job more challenging, depending on what you do. Others find the time more productive, without having to do a long commute.

Still not sure whether to go self-employed?
If you’re not sure whether to go self-employed, take heart. More and more employers are seeing the benefits of flexible workers, and we’re slowly seeing a shift towards part-time senior briefs as employers get great skills for less than a full-time wage.

Ultimately, self-employment isn’t the only option on the table for working parents. It might sound cheesy, but it’s best to always take your time making your decision and stay true to yourself.

If you’d like to register with flexible recruitment agency Ten2Two Sussex, please contact Emma Cleary at 07810 541599 or email emma@ten2two.org today.
Or if you’re a business in the local area, get in touch to see how flexible workers can help your organisation this year.

Maternity leave – how is it spent?

By | Education, Finance, Uncategorized, Work employment

Research has revealed the top things that pregnant women plan to do during their maternity leave, with 15% stating that they plan to start their own business and become a ‘mumpreneur’. According to the poll, a third of new mums go back to work earlier than they are required to, with the majority citing ‘financial reasons’ behind their decision to return early.
The days of maternity leave being used to rest and relax, have tea breaks and bond with other new mums are long gone, according to new research that has found British women have far more ambitious plans to keep busy during their leave. Taking up a new hobbies, setting up businesses and learning a new language are among the top things that expectant mums plan to do while away from work.

The team at www.VoucherCodesPro.co.uk conducted the research as part of an ongoing study into the financial situations that Britons find themselves in. 2,319
British women aged 18 and over, all of whom stated that they had given birth in the past five years, were quizzed about their maternity leave and how they spent their time.

Initially all respondents were asked ‘How did you plan to spend your maternity leave?’ to which the most common responses were ‘taking up a new hobby’ (18%), ‘setting up a business’ (15%), ‘learning a new language’ (12%) and ‘travelling’ (9%). All respondents were then asked if they had spent their leave doing what they had planned to do, with the results revealing that half of those who wanted to set up a business did indeed become ‘mumpreneurs’ (50%) and 41% of those who wanted to learn a new language realised their dreams, though just 11% of pregnant women who planned to travel ended up venturing abroad.

All respondents were then asked ‘Did you return to work before your full maternity entitlement was up?’ to which 55% of respondents stated that they used their full entitlement, whilst the remaining respondents either made the decision to return to work early (33%) or chose not to return to work at all (11%).

Those who returned to work early, without using their full maternity entitlement, were asked to share the reasons why they had done so. When provided with a list of possible reasons and told to select all
that applied, the top five responses were as follows:

1. Financial reasons – 81%
2. Needed more adult company in the day – 70%
3. Worried about long-term job security – 52%
4. My child was in day-care, and it gave me something to do – 46%
5. I felt the company needed me back – 39%

All respondents who had returned to work were then asked ‘Did your return to work go as you had planned?’ to which 74% admitted that it hadn’t. When asked to elaborate, 44% of those who planned to return to work full-time ended up returning part-time, compared to 13% who planned to return to work
part-time and ended up working full-time.

George Charles, spokesperson for www.VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, made the following comments: “It’s fantastic to see that so many women are using their maternity leave to do something positive. Obviously they’re already doing something incredible, by raising a child, but it’s important that they take the time to do something for themselves at the same time. Taking up a hobby, meeting new people and studying something new, these are great ways to pass the time, keep occupied and also get your child engaging with others too. They’ll also leave you in a better position when it comes to returning to the working world – assuming that’s something you wish to do.”

Employing a nanny – things you need to consider

By | family, Finance, Legal

We appreciate that employing a nanny to care for your little ones is a big decision. Once you have found your Mary Poppins, there are a number of things you need to think about from contracts and cars to wages and tax. It can seem a daunting prospect, but it doesn’t have to be!

On hiring a nanny, you will become an employer. As an employer, you have an obligation to pay tax, national insurance and provide a pension for your nanny.

Agree a gross wage
Most people’s salaries are defined in gross terms, but unfortunately in the nanny industry, net salary arrangements, that is, agreeing a take home pay figure, have been the traditional practice.

But beware, agreeing a net salary could end up costing you a lot of money!

If you agree a net wage and your nanny has a student loan or an outstanding debt with HMRC then the nanny’s monthly money in their pocket would remain the same but your costs would increase, as you would effectively be paying the nanny’s student loan or debt on top of their wages!

We would always recommend agreeing a gross salary as this then protects you the employer from any hidden costs.

But gross can be better for nannies too!

The tax-free allowance increases every year and net agreements will not see the benefit of this. The employer will see the tax saving, not the nanny.

Tax and National Insurance
As an employer, you are responsible for deducting and paying your nanny’s Income Tax and National Insurance contributions to HMRC.
You will need to register as a new employer with HMRC and set up a PAYE scheme but, don’t worry, a good Nanny Payroll company can do this for you.

Pension contributions
If your nanny is between 22 and state retirement age and earns more than £10,000 a year, you must set up a pension scheme for them.

You will have to make a contribution towards this pension scheme each month, based on your nanny’s gross salary.

Again, a good Nanny Payroll company can set up the pension scheme and administer it for you.

Employer’s liability insurance
When employing someone in your home, you will need to make sure your home insurance covers you for people working in your home.

Employer’s Liability Insurance is a legal requirement for all employers in the UK set by the Employers Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969. This protects the employer from any claim for compensation by an employee for illness/injury sustained as a result of their employment with you.

Nanny share
Nanny shares are becoming an increasing popular way of making nanny employment more affordable and accessible for many families. It can also be a good way of allowing an only child to socialise with other children without going to nursery.

Nannies can often work for two or more families, by caring for the children all at the same time or by splitting the week between them.

It is important to remember that however many families the nanny is working for, each will be considered an individual employer and as such have the individual responsibilities, even if all the children are being cared for at the same time.

Other bits and pieces…
You must provide your nanny with a payslip every week or month, showing their earnings and any deductions that have been made.

You must pay your nanny at least the national minimum wage. This is currently £7.83 per hour for employees aged 25 and older, £7.38 for employees aged 21 to 24, £5.90 for 18 to 20 year olds, and £4.20 for under 18s. However, it’s likely you’ll be paying them much more than this.

You should issue a written contract to your nanny before they start work, or within two months of their start date. It should include the salary, hours, days worked, notice period and holiday entitlement, plus a description of their duties.

All employees, whether full or part-time, are entitled to pro-rata 28 days paid holiday per year including bank holidays. You can offer more than this, as a way of obtaining the best nanny!

You are responsible for paying your employee’s statutory sick pay; statutory maternity pay and holiday pay. If you wish the nanny to accompany you on holiday, then please note that this does not count towards the nanny’s annual leave and she will need to be paid as normal. Also, if you want the nanny to take some of her holiday when you take holiday, this should be specifically stated in the contract.

You must check that your nanny has a legal right to work in the UK. Check your applicant’s identification documents, such as passport, birth certificate or identity card before making a formal offer of employment.

DBS (formerly CRB) checks are essential for anyone who wants to employ a nanny to look after their children. When checking your nanny’s references, always ask to see their DBS check which must be valid within 12 months.

Hopefully, this article highlights all the big things you need to think about when employing your nanny. It may seem like a lot but a good Nanny Payroll company, can handle it all for you from as little as £18 per month.

If you have any further questions or would like to sign up, please email us at payroll@payrollfornannies.co.uk or give us a ring on 01273 446595.

Protecting your child’s education

By | Education, Finance, Uncategorized

An insurance guide for parents of children at independent schools

by Clare Cave
Director at SFS Group

Choosing the right school for your child is a huge decision – taking many hours of careful thought and research. You want to make sure you consider every option and look at every possible angle to find the perfect choice. After all, this is something that will affect the rest of their lives.

Once you’ve secured that all important place, the next step is to secure your finances. Many parents are aware that there are products that can help spread the cost across a period of time, to help with budgeting and make fees more affordable. These payment plans can be extremely helpful and can be the difference between deciding to opt for an independent education or not.

However, what many parents aren’t aware of is that there are a number of insurance products available that can secure those payments, no matter what the future may hold.

Here are details of those policies, providing the full picture about what protection
is available:

School Fees Insurance
After the mortgage, school fees are probably the next largest financial commitment for families with children at independent schools. Many will have taken steps to protect their homes but may never have known they could do the same with their children’s fees. If one parent dies or suffers a serious illness, it could be extremely difficult to find the money required to keep your child at the school you’ve chosen.

What does it cover?
This product covers your school fees until your child turns 18 should you become terminally ill or die. Benefit payments are made directly to the school, therefore avoiding any tax or probate issues that may be encountered through traditional life insurance policies. No medical underwriting is required to take out the insurance. Critical illness cover can be added to the policy too, at an additional cost. A choice of different levels of cover are available.

School Fees Refund Insurance
Most of the time, when children are ill they’ll only be off school for a day or two. However, if they contract something more serious, such as glandular fever, they could be off school for two or three weeks, or even longer. Similarly, if they suffer a broken arm or leg, they may need to spend time at home to recuperate. All this time, parents will be required to continue to pay fees despite their children not being in school.

What does this cover?
This product provides a refund of your school fees if your child misses school due to accident or illness. Each policy will have a defined deferred period – a time the child needs to be off school before a claim can be made. Typically, this length of time will be between five and 10 days. There is a choice of different levels of cover available. Some policies will also cover weekends for children who are at boarding school.

Pupils’ Personal Possessions Insurance
Technology has become an everyday part of education. Pupils are often required to complete their work on a computer and may need to take it into school to use in their lessons. Mobile phones have become almost universal among children at senior schools and over a third of those aged eight to 11 own one. These are expensive items that can be difficult to live without and can be easily damaged in a hectic day at school.

What does this cover?
There are a range of different policies available for pupils’ possessions, offering different levels of cover. The most useful attributes to look out for are a low excess and cover for accidental damage. While it is possible to include your children’s possessions on your household contents insurance, having a separate policy will often work out more cost effective and will protect any no-claims bonus that you may have.

Income Protection Insurance
Cover is also available to protect against long-term health conditions that aren’t classed as a critical, serious or terminal illness. The most common cause for a prolonged sickness absence for employees in the UK is mental illness, which could be covered by
this protection.

What does this cover?
This provides insurance cover to pay for school fees should you become ill or have an accident and be unable to work for a set number of weeks. A range of different cover levels are available, and payments are made directly to the school in monthly instalments. Payments will continue until you return to work, your child reaches 18 or for five years, whichever happens first.

Securing the best possible education for your child is one of the best gifts you can ever give. It opens up so many possibilities for their future.
It makes sense to spend just a little time on your financial planning to ensure you have the right protections in place, so they can follow whatever path they choose.

Clare Cave is Director at SFS Group who has, for over 25 years, been providing parents of children at independent schools with innovative insurance products that give peace of mind for whatever the future may hold.

www.sfs-group.co.uk

Marriage vs Cohabitation Understanding your legal rights

By | Education, family, Finance, Legal, Relationships, Uncategorized
by Deborah Bailey
Gowen & Stevens Solicitors

Marriage, or indeed a civil partnership, which is treated the same as marriage upon breakdown, is not for everyone. Even though there have been changes in the law allowing same sex partners to marry, a growing number of couples still regard it as old-fashioned and believe they have no requirement for ‘a piece of paper’ to confirm commitment to each other. Living together or ‘cohabiting’ remains the fastest growing family arrangement.

Often, it is only when facing the breakdown of a relationship that unmarried couples realise how that seemingly irrelevant piece of paper could have altered their situation. Furthermore, even if you remain blissfully together, there are still potential pitfalls for cohabiting families as time passes. Read on to find out how you can protect yourself and your children.

Even if you have lived together for a long time or have children together, the law will not protect you if you break up. Despite the media’s love of the term common-law wife, or indeed husband, this is not a recognised term in law. The fact that your relationship even existed, when it comes to the law, may be irrelevant. Often, the only issue to resolve in a breakdown of a cohabiting relationship will be what happens to the home. The fact that there may be children to re-home may not be a consideration and you could end up in a desperate situation.

Conversely, when looking at how to distribute a family’s assets on divorce, a spouse can call upon the matrimonial law to look at all the relevant circumstances of the relationship, often before but certainly during and after the marriage. The goal in these circumstances is to seek a result that is fair to both spouses with the welfare of the children being treated as a primary consideration. The future living arrangements of all involved will be a concern as will the financial position of each spouse following the divorce.

Whilst campaigners are lobbying for a change in the law to protect unmarried families, until this happens, people need to be aware and take steps wherever possible to protect themselves and their children. So what can you do?

Property
If you own property together and both names are on the property register, then you probably had a discussion with your conveyancing solicitor about how you would own the property so there is a chance that your ownership will already be clearly defined.

Matters become more complicated if the property is owned by only one of you. However, the non legal owner may still have an interest in the property dependant upon how finances were arranged during the relationship and what agreements you had. Seeking legal advice in this scenario is essential and can help determine your interest and how you can realise this.

If you are buying a property in which you intend to live together, speak to your solicitor about the ways in which you can own the property and how you can protect yourself.

Maintenance
If you are looking after the children, you can claim maintenance following a break-up from your former partner for your children. If this cannot be agreed, apply to the Child Maintenance Service.

Unlike divorce, unmarried former partners cannot claim maintenance for themselves from the other partner, even if they are the stay-at-home parent looking after the children.

Inheritance
As cohabiting partners, unlike married couples, there is no automatic right of inheritance if your partner dies without making a will. Whilst you and your children could make an application against your partner’s estate if they were maintaining you prior to their death, this could be a stressful experience at an already difficult time. Making a Will could avoid a lot of anxiety and uncertainty for your loved ones.

Partners should also think about taking out life assurance.

Consider also making Lasting Powers of Attorney. If you become ill and incapable of managing your own affairs a cohabiting partner has no legal right to make decisions on your behalf. This could cause difficulties with the wider family who may or may not know your wishes. Appointing your partner as your Attorney could avoid such difficulties.

Cohabitation Agreements
It’s not very romantic but thinking about your arrangements before you buy a property or move in together can save a lot of heartache if things go wrong. A cohabitation agreement is strongly recommended and a solicitor can help you consider all the issues that could arise and, provided it is properly drafted, could protect against costly court proceedings.

Ultimately, every situation is different but being aware that living together is very different from being married means that you can take steps to avoid problems later if things go wrong. Always seek advice from an experienced solicitor who specialises in this complex area of family law.

An established practice for over 120 years with offices in Cheam, Banstead and Sutton. Offering a highly personal service tailored to all aspects of your family and business life.
www.gowenandstevens.com

What you need to know before considering mediation

By | Education, family, Finance, Legal, Relationships, Uncategorized
by Sarah Brookes
Brookes Family Mediation

The mediator will not tell you what to do or make any decisions for you
The mediator’s role is to support you both towards reaching joint decisions, on the issues that you each identify as needing resolution. Whilst the mediator will help you to reality test any proposed agreements; to ensure that they will work as intended, in meeting and protecting each of your needs; they will not seek to influence the final decisions that you make. You will be supported to jointly take responsibility for the shape of your future. This approach reduces conflict and minimises the need to compete; unfortunately, the exact opposite is true of court proceedings. It is for this reason that mediated arrangements have proved less likely to break down than court ordered arrangements.

Mediation is more likely to be successful if you keep an open mind
Whilst it is helpful to give some thought to what you would like to achieve through mediation; you will also need to be able to consider ideas and proposals put forward by the other person. This approach enables all options to be explored, in order to find the best solutions for you both. Agreement is usually reached quickest when both people feel that they have been fully and equally involved and listened to within the process.

A mediator does not make moral judgements
Mediation is not about raking over the past to decide who was right and who was wrong. It is about dealing with the here and now, and the practical arrangements and decisions that need to be made, to enable you both to move forward in the best way possible. The mediator will remain impartial and committed to helping you both equally, throughout the process. Emotional outbursts are fairly common within mediation, and will not affect the mediator’s ability to remain entirely impartial.

A mediator is not a passive observer
The mediator will take an active part in your discussions, and whilst they will not give advice, they will often make suggestions, flag up points that have not been considered, and give relevant information. Where necessary, the mediator will also refocus the conversations, to ensure that they are constructive and moving forward towards solutions and agreements.

Where there has been domestic abuse, mediation may still be
the best option
It is the mediator’s duty to provide a safe environment where you are able to freely express your views, without fear of harm. If you do have concerns relating to your safety, the mediator will be able to asses and advise as to whether or not mediation is appropriate in your circumstances. If you don’t feel able to sit in the same room as your former partner, mediation can take place on a ‘shuttle’ basis, which is where you will sit in separate rooms, with the mediator moving between you. The mediator will usually also arrange staggered arrival and departure times. There is even the possibility of mediation taking place through Skype, so that you do not have to be in the same building.

Sarah Brookes spent 16 years working as a family lawyer in Eastbourne, before setting up Brookes Family Mediation. Sarah is passionate about the benefits of mediation. If you are uncertain about whether mediation is right for you, or if you have any questions, give Sarah a call on: 01323 411629 or email her: sarah@brookesfamilymediation.co.uk
Or for more information go to: www.brookesfamilymediation.co.uk

Children and money

By | Finance

Don’t overprotect children from money issues

Findings from a report released by the government-backed Money Advice Service, demonstrate a worrying lack of money skills among the UK’s children and young people. Millions of Britain’s young people are set to enter adulthood unprepared to handle their money and at increased risk of being plunged into life-changing debt.

The survey found that children whose parents involved them in decisions and discussions about money and allowed them to experience using money from as young as four, are more likely to develop vital financial skills. These skills can have a major positive impact on their ability to save, budget and plan ahead financially in later life. However, children who aren’t included in these discussions, or don’t experience using money, risk being left behind.

The report showed that children who didn’t have a say in spending their own money were substantially less likely to save. Of 12 – 17 year olds surveyed, when asked how they would manage if given £100, those whose parents decided how their money was spent were likely to save the smallest amount (£53.65). This compared to those whose parents included them in money discussions, who were likely to save an average of around 20% more.

Children (aged 12-17) whose parents decide how they spend their money are also nearly five times more likely to say that borrowing money didn’t bother them – even if they had no plans to pay it back (19%, compared to 4% who decide on their own or with their parents).

This group were also more likely to choose unnecessary purchases over essential expenditure. The survey asked children aged four to six to choose between buying a toy and buying lunch. 30% of children whose parents decided how they spent their money chose the toy, compared to 17% where the child decides how they spend their money.

Finally, these children are less likely to be confident in managing their money. Only one in three (35%) whose parents made money decisions for them said they were confident in handling their finances.

The research also showed that parents are keen to be involved with their children’s money management skills. 90% think it’s important to help their child learn about money and 81% think they can impact their child’s ability to manage money in adult life.

Previous research has shown that our attitudes towards money can be set from as young as seven. However, many parents are still leaving it too late to intervene and failing to take decisive action to help their children. The research findings showed that the majority of parents were likely to overestimate the age at which they should talk to their children about money issues including saving, bills and debt

Furthermore, a quarter (24%) thought they should wait until their children were in secondary school before teaching them the importance of saving. A further 31% of parents of 16-17 year olds said they didn’t set and stick to money rules with their teenager. And 17% said they rarely or never spoke to them about the risks of getting into debt.

How to include your children in money discussions and decisions:
• Give children the chance to pay for things from an early age, with their own money. For example, instead of buying treats for them during your weekly shop, give them the money and explain to them that they can pick what they want, but when the money is gone,
it’s gone.
• Include your children in discussions about bills, to give them an idea of how household finances run. Explain things like direct debits, monthly/quarterly bills and energy tariffs. Frame it in an engaging and interesting way – tell them they’re helping to keep the lights on, for example.
• If you give your children pocket money, encourage them to set a little aside each month to save up for something they really want. Regularly remind them to save, even if it’s a small amount each month.
• Open a savings account on behalf of your child. Try and save into it regularly, even if it’s just a few pounds a month. Include them in this, get them to go and make deposits in person at a bank branch and let them know how much money is in their account. Some of these accounts also provide a gift, like a moneybox, which can be a nice incentive to save
• For very young children, just getting them used to what money is from a young age can be a great start. Give them the opportunity to handle money and explain to them what money is.
• For slightly older children, give them the chance to manage their money digitally, to get them used to things like mobile banking.

Family mediation

By | Finance, Relationships
by Sarah Brookes
Brookes Family Mediation

– a better way to resolve the issues arising from a relationship breakdown

The breakdown of a relationship is very often extremely stressful and upsetting, particularly so when children are involved. It can be incredibly difficult not to allow feelings of hurt or anger to influence the important decisions that need to be made for yours and your children’s future. Family mediation helps people who are separating, or have separated, to discuss and agree the future arrangements for children and/or finances. Family mediators are professionally trained to manage and support constructive discussions; and to do so in an entirely impartial and non judgemental way; towards achieving agreed solutions. Mediated agreements are less likely to break down than arrangements ordered by the court. Government studies (2004-2010) indicate that mediation provides more sustainable resolutions than the court process.

Families come in all different shapes and sizes, and all shades of weird and wonderful. All families are unique; they all function in unique ways that work for them. As parents, we constantly make both big and small decisions for our families, taking in to account the quirks and needs of all.

When parents separate they need to find a new way for the family dynamics to work. The need for them to make decisions, based on their knowledge of what works best for the children, does not end with their relationship; they remain parents, with all of the associated responsibilities.

Communication often breaks down, or becomes very difficult, on separation. Trying to reach agreement, so that decisions can be made, on such emotive issues as arrangements for the children, can be very difficult, and can feel overwhelming. In those circumstances, many parents turn to the family courts, and allow a Judge to decide the arrangements for their children. Whilst the Judge will undoubtedly know what is best for his own family, he does not know your children and all their little quirks, and cannot know better than you, what arrangements will work best for your children.

Court Orders tend to deal with the here and now, they cannot provide for, or anticipate, all future events, and they do not replace the need for communication between parents. Sadly, Court proceedings often serve to increase difficulties in communication.

The very adversarial nature of court proceedings brings out our instinctive desire to win; with each party trying to persuade the court that their position should be adopted, it become easy for the ‘winning’ to become the goal. This is no criticism of the parents who find themselves going through the court process; this is the way the system works, and is why court proceedings in family matters are intended to be, and should be, an absolute last resort.

A final court judgement will inevitably create a perceived ‘winner’ and a ‘loser’. The resulting imbalance is not conducive to positive and cooperative future relations, and the parent’s ability to communicate will have been set back considerably.

As parents, there will be an ongoing and most likely long-term need for communication between you; consider such things as school choices, medical attention, teenage issues, graduations, weddings, for example. Whilst communication after separation can be very difficult, there will almost always be some level on which it is able to work.

When parents do not find a way to communicate, children can often end up acting as messengers between them, whether asked to or not. Misunderstandings are almost inevitable and tension and resentment can easily build. Even with the best of intentions, in those circumstances, it can be very difficult not to show, or even verbalise, negative feelings about the other parent in front of the children. It is a heavy burden for a child to act as peacekeeper between their parents. Children, in most cases, love both of their parents, and do not want to have to choose between them, or to hear one of their parents denigrated by the other. When children face having their loyalties divided between their parents, they undoubtedly suffer emotional harm, at a time when they are already facing the difficult changes brought about by the separation of their family.

In family mediation, parents are supported and assisted by a trained mediator, to communicate, and to work together, to make joint decisions for their children; by focusing on the children’s individual needs. Having worked together, rather than battled against each other; and having taken joint responsibility for the shape of their future, rather than having had a decision imposed upon them; the potential for feelings of resentment and future conflict is hugely minimised. A way of communication will have been established, which will live beyond the mediation process. Children will unquestionably benefit from having their future arrangements decided by the people who know and love them best; who have made decisions with their needs at the forefront of their minds.

Sarah Brookes spent 16 years working as a family lawyer in Eastbourne, before setting up Brookes Family Mediation. Sarah is passionate about the benefits of mediation. If you are uncertain about whether mediation is right for you, or if you have any questions, give Sarah a call on:
01323 411629 or email her:
sarah@brookesfamilymediation.co.uk
or for more information go to:
www.brookesfamilymediation.co.uk