DOES A FAMILY MEDIATOR TAKE SIDES?

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I’m surprised that this is the first time I’ve been asked this question…”Do you side with Moms since you are one?” It’s an amazing question since Mediation is really about finding someone that you can trust to walk you through the process and someone that you feel comfortable opening up to. Had that question not been asked at the beginning and not answered to the satisfaction of the client the mediation would have been doomed to fail. No matter how effective I was or what solutions were agreed to,  the mediation process would have been out of balance.

It’s important to remember that mediators DON’T have any decision making power at all. We are impartial third parties that guide families through a process. We all do it a little differently and bring our own personalities and experiences into the mediation. This information can be useful in finding the right mediator for you.

It’s probably helpful for me to share a bit about my background and what brought me to open my own practice. I know intimately how time consuming and emotional custody and access issues are for parents, specifically fathers. I was married, the sole income earner with a great career and a stay at home husband. When the time came and we separated I was treated as a second class citizen during the legal process. It would seem that I was not actually a parent as I had always considered myself to be as I was not the “primary caregiver”. The responsibility of supporting my family so that my children would have a parent able to stay home with them automatically put me in the position as so many of the fathers I encountered at the courts. I could not fathom how the courts and lawyers were happy to relegate me to every other weekend and maybe a dinner during the week. I did not understand how this was in the best interests of my children to have a primary parent and a weekend parent.

I was able to successfully create a shared parenting plan with my ex husband through mediation and I am happy to say that for the last 7 years I have cared for my children every other week, for a week.

I tell all of my clients that I have a bias towards children having the benefit of both parents in their lives. I understand that it is not always possible or wanted but I start the process with the idea that each parent has equal rights to parent the children going forward. From there the parents can negotiate a parenting plan that works for all members of their family. There are many types of parenting plans/schedules with many variations. It’s all about finding the best fit for your family.

I provided this background to my client to ensure him that I am a fair mediator and can certainly see both sides, the traditional father role and the traditional mother role. I am a firm believer that children need to be loved and cared for by both parents. My clients can avoid a lengthy and costly court battle as I keep both of them focused on the BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILDREN.

I truly believe that once the parenting responsibilities are sorted that the parents can move on more successfully with other aspects of their separation.

It is my intent to help create awareness of mediation and to provide families with a positive alternative to managing transitions that see the families themselves creating the solutions.

In the end I’m happy to say that my personal experiences and personality put my clients at ease and they were able to work through their separation issues without concerns about my impartiality.

Julie Gill

Owner and Principal Mediator

Families First Mediation

www.familiesfirstmediation.com

 

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