George and Mabel have two children together: Ivy aged 8 and Freddie aged 6. They had separated in early 2020. George had struggled with the separation and had started to use amphetamines recreationally. Mable was very worried about this affecting the children and stopped the overnight contact that had been taking place.
George got more depressed and could no longer go to work. There were arguments because George was not paying maintenance. Mable went to court and an injunction was put in place stopping George and Mabel having any contact. All the arrangements for the children stopped.
They came to online mediation at the start of the pandemic. Each person came to their online one to one meeting. George said he was depressed and was continuing to use amphetamines. The mediator decided at that stage that mediation was not the right way forward and asked George to think about going to the doctor about his depression and a to a drugs agency to deal with the amphetamine issue.
George agreed to speak to a doctor and a drugs agency, and both agreed to come back to mediation after six months.
George and Mabel returned to mediation six months later and both took part in a shuttle mediation.
George provided confirmation from the drugs agency that he was no longer misusing or testing positive for amphetamines, and confirmation from his doctor that he was taking anti-depressants. They each took part in another individual meeting and four online mediation meetings.
Their meetings were in separate online meeting rooms and the mediator went between the two rooms. George and Mabel were not together at any time as there was now an injunction in place. In mediation, they agreed to use a contact centre to help the children rebuild their relationship with George. Initially the children’s time with George was supervised by the contact centre and gradually this role changed to support for George if the children were unsettled or distressed. Mabel was reassured by the staff at the contact centre who said George had a good relationship with the children and they enjoyed the tie with their dad. Contact then moved away from the contact centre, and in June 2021 the children had their first overnight stay in George’s home.
George and Mabel hope to put in place an alternate weekend arrangement and George is returning to work soon. George and Mabel have discussed and agreed in mediation how the maintenance can be paid.
“This has been a lot slower than I wanted, but Mable and I have sorted stuff out and I have made sure I keep to the agreements we set us with the mediator.”
“I never wanted to go to court, but I needed to know that the children were safe when they were with George. He is a good dad, and they love him.”
The mediator said:
“George was willing to wait and do the work necessary to reassure Mabel. The progress was steady and both parents felt they were able to bring their worries about the arrangement to mediation”George and Mabel have a parenting plan that sets out the arrangements in a clear way that they can understand. They will come back to mediation in future if they have other issues to resolve.