Norfolk family mediation

School summer holiday: the value of a parenting plan

As the long school summer holiday beckons, promising rising tensions in homes, staff at a Norwich-based family charity are urging separated families to agree a parenting plan as part of their approach to life after splitting up.

Local charity Norfolk Family Mediation Service (NFMS) recommends an agreement made by separated parents, covering how the children will be supported and cared for after separation, can have a positive impact on a young person’s future development.

Parents who want to know more can get in touch with Norfolk Family Mediation Service on 01603 620588, email [email protected] or visit Legal aid is available to cover the cost of your mediation, if you are on a low income or benefits. Norfolk Family Mediation Service is registered charity, affiliated to National Family Mediation, and is a not-for-profit organisation.

NFMS chairman of trustees Stephen Burke said: “The school summer holidays often lead to separated parents reaching breaking point, as arguments and differences boil over. Parenting arrangements imposed by divorce courts are exposed as being in nobody’s interests. Pick-up, drop-offs and living arrangements that might have worked in term-time can be wholly inadequate when the long holiday comes, fuelling resentments and hostilities, with the child caught helplessly in the middle.”

Norfolk Family Mediation Service, based at Charing Cross, Norwich, says a positive Parenting Plan, agreed by the couple with flexibility built in, is easier to achieve than many people think.

“You both tailor it to suit your own specific circumstances,” added Stephen. ”Over time, as the lives of separated families change, the Plan will probably need to be revisited. Most important to recognise is that it’s not just the parents whose needs change; the children’s do too.

“None of this means parents have to get on with each other after they separate. But it allows them to find different ways of co-parenting for the benefit of the child. After all is said and done, the child isn’t at fault and deserves the very best from both parents.”

Family mediation is a process that enables parents to reach agreements without the stress of involving lawyers or the courts. An expert mediator works with a couple to help them find ways to stay in touch with their children and enabling them to find ways of communicating with each other more effectively.

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