Rachel and Ben have one child, Emily. Emily was born following 15 years of marriage and IVF treatment.
Emily is now six. She was four when Rachel and Ben separated.
Ben started a new relationship and separated from Rachel. Initially, he lived with his parents, but he moved in with his new partner and her daughter Niamh.
Arrangements were in place for Emily but were very acrimonious, and Emily was showing signs of distress at school, particularly during drop off and pick up.
Ben wanted to apply to the court for shared care, but Rachel opposed this application. They decided to attend mediation to try to sort out the matter.
Four mediations took place. Within the MIAM, both parents were given a parenting plan and a child-focussed approach to the issue was taken by the mediator.
Initially, shuttle mediation took place. During this, Rachel and Ben were in separate rooms due to the high level of conflict between them, and the mediator moved between them.
At the first mediation meeting, Rachel and Ben were given information about the grieving process that Emily is likely to have experienced and how parental conflict affects children. The mediator talked about how child consultation could help Emily. This is where a mediator, specially trained to work with children, talks to Emily without her parents present and listens to how she is feeling. Both parents thought Emily might be a bit young but decided to think about it.
This first meeting was very difficult, with both parents expressing anger and sadness. There were tears and raised voices. Options were explored for Emily to spend more time with her father and taking a staged approach to increasing that time.
At the later sessions, there was a significant improvement in parental communication and the parents were able to agree a staged process for an increase in the time that Emily spends with her father and an arrangement to share holidays.
A parenting plan was agreed and written up and sent out to both parents. No further court intervention was required, saving money and further conflict for everyone.