I’m pleased to say that family mediators are still working across England and Wales, adapting to the current Coronavirus situation, with many using video conferencing as a substitute for in-person meetings.
As the largest provider of family mediation, NFM understands it’s essential we continue to provide the means for separating and divorcing couples to make those vital arrangements for parenting, property and money. Goodness knows, there is enough uncertainty surrounding everyone’s lives right now. And separating couples can’t let this unduly compound the anxieties they naturally feel as they look to mould the changed futures of their family members.
Moving mediation online is a sensible response to the present situation, and so is a new service NFM is introducing to help people adapt their co-parenting arrangements in view of government-imposed restrictions.
We all know that separated parents often have complex child arrangements in place, and for many people these are being thrown high in the air by new Coronavirus rules.
Children who split their time between two parents’ homes, for example, may find this is not possible if one parent is self-isolating, and this can place extra pressure on everyone involved.
A child might have to enter self-isolation in either place, if a parent shows symptoms, for as long as 14 days under rules at the time of writing.
Add to this the fact that some homes will include people in vulnerable groups, such as grandparents. This can mean an expectation on the other parent to step up their childcare responsibilities.
What about the impact of school closures on parents’ childcare arrangements? Who might be best equipped to manage any home-schooling expectations? And in the middle of it all, there is the danger of overlooking the emotional impact on a child of not being able to see one parent for a long period.
There are a few fairly simple steps – ensuring the child has more clothing and belongings in both homes in case circumstances forbid them switching, for example. Setting up Skype or scheduling FaceTime discussions can ensure regular contact with both parents whatever happens.
But because every family’s situation is unique, it’s important to find bespoke solutions to the range of issues separated parents are encountering. That is at the heart of the new initiative being undertaken by NFM mediators.
NFM’s ‘Co-parenting through Coronavirus’ video conference consultations help parents work with an expert mediator to work out what can be done now to reduce the impact on children’s lives. They will help parents make new or changed plans to help get through the next few months. And that includes the economic impact on financial arrangements for children as people find themselves losing work.
We are urging parents to act quickly, and not to wait until the full effects of the virus hit. Making decisions now means preparations will be in place when they are required.
Co-parenting cannot wait until all this is over, whenever that may be.
Chief Executive, NFM