What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process where people appoint a third-party to help them to resolve disputes between themselves. This process is voluntary, highly successful, confidential, and saves time and money. It helps people, especially divorcing parents to maintain their relationships with one another. Mediation works because it is essentially a negotiation with guidance and leads to a win-win for all concerned.
As a trained divorce and family mediator, I provide a forum in which parties can tell their sides of the story in a non-confrontational way.
What is Co-mediation?
Co-mediation is also available in finding common ground on which to resolve your disputes. Interdisciplinary co-mediation with the combination of a mediator from a legal background working with a mediator from a human sciences discipline is particularly helpful in dealing with divorce issues. Our experience has shown that two heads are often better than one. We find that we are better able to assist participants in generating options for resolution and therefore provide co-mediation.
What is a Parenting Plan?
Parenting plans are mandatory before a divorce can be finalised, wherever minor children are involved.
A parenting plan is an agreement between parents that outlines how they will exercise their parental rights and duties after separating. Parenting plans help give clear guidelines to parents on how to exercise their parental rights and responsibilities.
Usually, parenting plans are drafted together by both parents with the help of a neutral third party or mediator. Developing a parenting plan is an essential part of the divorce process and serves as a roadmap directing how children will be raised after separation or divorce.
Even if there is no conflict regarding the primary care and contact of your children in separation, during or after divorce, the parenting plan will be in the best interest of the children. It forms part of the settlement agreement and will help resolve issues should there be changes in the future.
This valuable legal tool assists parents on various issues, including care, contact, and financial contributions. The agreement also covers essential decisions about raising children in separate homes, such as:
- Where and with whom the children will live;
- Contact between the children and other significant people in the children’s life;
- Schooling and religion;
- Sharing of information relating to the children;
- Parent’s attendance and involvement in children’s activities;
- Joint decision-making in major matters affecting the children.
VOICE OF THE CHILD toolkit
Supporting the child's wishes and best interests
Divorce or separation is invariably traumatic for all concerned, but especially for children. The participation of a child in matters affecting them in a divorce or separation is mandatory according to the Children’s Act 38 of 2005. Children are the focus of residency and contact disputes, and are generally able to express what is important to them. Yet, it is only recently that children are allowed to contribute to decisions regarding their future.
With the aim of creating more constructive and positive outcomes for parties dealing with divorce and to understand the child’s views and preferences it is essential to collect as much information as possible pertaining to the child’s best interests. My intention is to gain a holistic view of the child and to determine the impact that changes have on the family structure due to divorce.
By using the Voice of the Child toolkit and other relevant techniques, I explore and see the world through their eyes; to understand their views, and to convey their personal preferences and wishes to the parents. Children’s participation does not mean they have the right to demand a particular outcome or course of action. The parents, mediator and Voice of the Child practitioner need to collaborate to craft child-focused arrangements and reach an outcome that is in the child’s best interests.
During the feedback session with parents, it is important to find sustainable solutions to the issues concerning the child and work towards an action plan. As a therapist my role is to empower and support the child’s needs and wishes. The Voice of the Child report enables the legal adviser in drafting a parenting plan during divorce proceedings.
Relocation and Divorce or Separation
The news that your former spouse wants to relocate or even emigrate and take the children with them can be devastating. The issue of relocating children after a divorce, sometimes to another part of the world is a reality for many families. Understandably, it is not an easy decision to make, especially when there are minor children involved.
If you were born and raised in South Africa, it doesn’t mean that you have to live here for the rest of your life. There are opportunities elsewhere in the world to live and continue your life’s journey. This may include a neighbouring country or even another continent. As our society becomes increasingly mobile, our courts will be faced with more frequent applications for local and international family relocations.
A relocation dispute will arise when one parent, normally the parent with whom the child(ren) usually lives, decides to move town/province/country. In the absence of an agreement between the parties, a court is approached for ‘consent to relocate’ by the parent wishing to move. Alternatively, the parent “left behind” requests the court to prevent the relocation.
This is my passion, that is why I completed my thesis on the psychological effect of emigration. In relocation cases, individualised decisions as to a child’s best interests necessitate consideration of various factors. Thus, in finding out what is in a child’s best interest, the court will need to take into account all factors unique that particular case.
I agree with the following statement of J HARTZENBERG JUDGE OF THE HIGH COURT in the case of A.C. v K.C. (A 389/08)  ZAGPHC 369:
“It is not like marking a mathematics test where the score is counted up and one can see whether the candidate has passed or failed. It is more like marking an essay where one reads it and takes cognizance of the contents thereof and then one makes a value judgment to decide on the mark that is to be given. In the process, relevant aspects are to be weighed up against one another.”
Contact me to find out how you can keep the best interest of your children at heart, during separation or divorce.
NABFAM accredited mediator and facilitator and member of the following associations:
- The South African Council for Social Services Professions (SACSSP)
- South African Association Social Workers in Private Practice (SAASWIPP)