News & Recruitment

Kent Family Mediation Service – Important Announcement

We are pleased to announce that Kent Family Mediation Service is once again the Kent Provider of the Cafcass & Family Court Ordered Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP).


The Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP) is a course which helps you understand how to put your children first while you are separating, even though you may be in dispute with your child’s other parent. The course helps parents learn the fundamental principles of how to manage conflict and difficulties. Parents do not attend the same workshop as their partner..


Courts have the power, by making a court order, to ‘direct’ parents to attend a programme aimed at promoting safe contact with children. Cafcass is usually asked to advise the court if it is suitable for you. You can be ordered to go to a SPIP (there is no charge for Cafcass service user to attend) and/or to a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). After your court hearing Cafcass will send a SPIP referral on your behalf to your nearest SPIP service provider. The SPIP service provider will then contact you to arrange a date for you to attend your SPIP workshop. Kent Family Mediation Service is the provider for Kent SPIP workshops.


Non Court-Ordered SPIP

Kent Family Mediation Service can provide a non-court ordered SPIP. The fee for this is now £98.00 inc VAT per person. If you would like to attend a Non-Court Ordered SPIP, please contact the Kent Family Mediation Service SPIP Coordinator.

Kent Charity Helps Parents Locked In Conflict over Easter Holidays

As the School Easter holidays approach this week, many parents will have been busy planning to take their children away on holiday, or spend quality time with them, but for many separated parents, the Easter break can be a time of frustration and resentfulness, particularly if they are unable to reach an agreement with the other parent over how much time they are able to spend with their children during the school holidays.


Debbie Hillman from Charity Kent Family Mediation explains that owing to unresolved hostility and over charged emotions it can often be difficult for separated parents to put their differences aside long enough to reach agreement over child contact during school holidays. The penalties that are now imposed for taking children out of school during term time has added to the stress, putting more pressure on parents to reach agreements over how much time they each spend with the children in these often short spaces of time.


Debbie points out that with an 89% success rateFamily Mediation has been proven to work in the majority of cases and that Family Mediation is a far quicker, fairer and much more affordable way for parents to reach agreements over child contact during school holidays. Family Mediators are trained to diffuse hostility and conflict between parents, getting them to focus on reaching an agreement that is in the interests of their children. Patterns of contact can be trialled to ensure that agreements are workable, realistic and meet everyone’s expectations before any final agreement is reached. More importantly, decisions affecting the children are made by both parents and any child related agreements made during family mediation are built with flexibility taking into account a child’s changing needs as they get older.

Legal Aid is still available for Family Mediation, resulting in free mediation for anyone who is eligible to claim Legal Aid, giving a free *MIAM and free first mediation session for the other person in the case. Furthermore, agreements reached during mediation can be made legally binding without parents having the stress or the expense of going to court and a MIAM; *mediation information and assessment meeting is now compulsory before court, enabling people to explore the benefits of family mediation and to see how mediation can help them to resolve their dispute themselves instead of using the courts to resolve matters and make decisions for them.


Book an appointment at your nearest Kent Family Mediation Venue.

The Rise of the Stay at Home Dad

Sunday 17th June 2018 will be Father’s day, a day when a great number of Dads will be looking forward to celebrating their role as a Father.


Historically and traditionally, Fathers have always played an important role in family life, often known as the ‘head of the household’, the ‘master of the house’, the ‘matriarch of the family’, or for some families; the ‘main breadwinner’ when the Mother would stay at home to look after the children. However, over the past few decades, a great number of Dads have become ‘stay at home Dads’ who solely provide the day to day care for any dependent children of the family and this number is on the rise.


It has been said that the main reasons for the rise of the ‘stay at home Dad’ is that over recent years, more women have taken on higher paying jobs or career paths. In many instances, women are now able to earn more than their partner can. In circumstances like this, it often makes financial sense for the other parent to stay at home to look after the children. Another reason is that owing to the current economic climate; a number of people may not be able to find jobs, and because of this, some Fathers are unable to find work, or are not able to work and will stay at home to look after the children of the family while the Mothers go out to work.


Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that last year, 201,500 single Dads stayed at home to look after their dependent children, an increase of 30,000 from 2014. Sadly, according to the report, the reason behind some Dads staying at home to care for their children is because they were a widow and that 39% of the 30,000 single ‘stay at home Dads’ did so, because of a divorce or relationship break up.


Debbie Hillman from Charity Kent Family Mediation Service says, “The past decade has seen a sharp increase in the number of family breakups. Now, as many as one in three children will see their parents separate before they have reached the age of 15. As a long-standing family mediation service, we have seen the number of referrals that we receive rise sharply over the past three years. We receive mediation referrals from parents, grandparents and other family members who need help with family disputes following a relationship split, an impending divorce, or a family separation. The types of cases that our family mediators can help with include finances, property, pensions, and disputes over the family home, but the majority of the cases that our family mediators see involve children.


Debbie explains, “Family mediation is the family courts preferred way of dealing with family disputes, as it is quicker and cheaper than going down the legal route, particularly if one or both of the clients are eligible to claim Legal Aid, which entitles that person to free mediation. With a high success rate, family mediation also offers a more amicable route to a achieving a workable resolution that meets everyone needs, especially those of any children”. Debbie points out that every mediation case is different and that therefore each agreement reached, is unique to those clients individual set of circumstances. For instance, one way of resolving a dispute of contact over children could be by way of a ‘shared parenting agreement’ between both parents, where the child spends an equal amount of time with both parents, however this type of arrangement may not work for another family and further options would need exploring. Debbie urges anyone who finds himself or herself in a situation where they have reached a position where they feel unable to find an amicable way forward, not to give up hope and to try family mediation before they do anything else.


Kent family mediation service has mediation centres across Kent. Make a referral to arrange a mediation appointment.

School Summer Holiday Breaking Point For Kent Couples

While the long school summer holiday signals a lull for many Kent businesses, the opposite is true for a charity based in Kent, which says demand for its family mediation services from divorcing and separating couples are again seeing an upturn.


Debbie Hillman of Kent Family Mediation Service says, “Six weeks of summer holiday is the final straw for many strained relationships. It’s a breaking point for many couples who then need to start making arrangements for their separation.”


She identifies three factors that shift many of them from an uneasy relationship to an unworkable one during the summer:


  • More family time together in close proximity
  • Changes in established daily routines, and
  • The expense of going away, and keeping family members entertained


“It’s not just the week away somewhere warm, but the time at home when stressed-out families are spending more time together that proves the relationship is untenable,” Debbie says.

Kent Family Mediation Service is a member of the National Family Mediation network, which featured in the recent BBC Two TV series ‘Mr v Mrs: Call The Mediator’ that raised the profile of family mediation as an alternative means of resolving family disputes.


“More and more people now understand that when a relationship breaks down and property, finance and parenting arrangements need to be sorted, you don’t have to head off to a solicitor and a court room battle,” adds Debbie “There are alternative ways to make settlements, which is where Kent Family Mediation Service comes in.


Family mediation is four times quicker and more cost effective than going to court to settle a divorce. Professional mediators understand the families affected by separation are best placed to explore and agree the key details of their separation, rather than handing these judgements to a family court.”


Debbie added that as the summer holiday goes on, Kent Family Mediation Service sees more and more couples who have already separated or divorced seeking to change the arrangements imposed on them by a family court.


“Separated families often find the summer holiday is when they discover agreements that were imposed on them by courts are simply not workable. Arrangements for picking up and dropping off the children that might work in term-time prove to be impractical by changes in established routines. Resentments resurface, hostilities accelerate, and the child can be caught helplessly in the middle,” Debbie says.

Legal Aid is still available for family mediation clients. Those that are assessed as being eligible will be entitled to free family mediation with no payback. 


Make a referral to attend family mediation in Kent

The Importance of Grandparents in a Child’s Life

With people living longer nowadays, Grandparents are now not always the eldest members of the family; there can often be as many as four generations of family members within one family alone. It is therefore not surprising to find the estimation that at least half of the 14 million grandparents in the UK, are now under the age of 65 years.


Historically families always lived very close by to one another, in the same street or geographical area. Over the years, with easier commuting and social networking enabling cheaper, easier communication, many families have moved further away from each other. However, recent economic times, a higher cost of living, with unaffordable child care costs and a lack of affordable housing has dictated that many families now live together in order to assist each other financially. Often, a number of generations will live in the same household, or other separate accommodation on the one premises, making it easier for parents to go out to work or enabling parents to save for a home of their own, leaving Grandparents being joint carers for any children of the family.


Whether living close by, or separated by a great distance, a child’s relationship with their Grandparents is vitally important; Studies have shown that Grandparents are paramount for a child’s social, cognitive, and behavioural development. A child can go to their Grandparents for unconditional love, stability, and support; something that not all parents are in a position to give as freely as they might like to, especially if they are single parents, or if they have full time jobs. Grandparents are also able to pass on to their Grandchildren values and skills they themselves have learnt about life in addition to valuable information about their families’ ancestors, history, and cultural roots. This can not only help a child to establish their own identity, but will at the same time, instil in them life-long learning and a sense of belonging, something which they can then pass on to their own children one day.


Debbie Hillman of Charity Kent Family Mediation says, “Sunday 7th October 2018 is National Grandparents Day, a day when maternal and paternal Grandparents should be remembered and given credit for the important part that they have played in family life. Sadly, there are some Grandparents that for whatever reason they may have been denied contact with their Grandchild and as such are in a position where they are unable to take an active part in their Grandchildren’s lives. Grandparents can enrich a child’s life in many ways and when a Grandparent is no longer involved with the family, it can often leave a big void in the family that cannot be filled.

Family mediation can help estranged grandparents and parents come together to work through any conflict and rebuild relationships for the benefit of the whole family. Legal Aid is still available for family mediation and clients that are assessed as being eligible to claim Legal Aid will be entitled to free family mediation. This money will not have to be paid back at any point, even after a financial settlement.”


Make a referral for family mediation

Hope for separated families in Kent who dread a miserable Christmas

As October, school half term brings a reminder that Christmas is looming, a Kent based family charity says help is available for separated parents who are worried about where their children will spend the festive season this year.


“Across Kent there are separated families who are literally dreading Christmas,” says Debbie Hillman of Kent Family Mediation Service which helps families reach post-separation agreements on parenting, money and property.


“Christmas isn’t a time of joy for many separated families. Far from it,” Debbie says, adding, “By acting now to agree a simple parenting plan, parents can ease the anxieties and help move everyone on a more positive footing as December edges closer.


“Many separated couples face huge festive pressures. Christmas heaps tension upon tension as they find settlements imposed by divorce courts are impractical, leaving the child caught helplessly in the middle of a miserable December.


“Routine living arrangements that have worked well all year are often ditched for a couple of weeks, with turmoil for pick-ups and drop-offs when children need to visit relatives they haven’t seen all year.”


 “But by acting soon to make sensible plans, parents can in fact ensure their child has as positive and enjoyable Christmas as possible.


 “A parenting plan is easier to agree than many people think. Starting with an open mind, parents need to accept that whilst their own relationship can’t be saved, the vital bonds between child and each parent can actually go from strength to strength.”


 A parenting plan is an agreement made by separated parents, covering how the children will continue to be supported and cared for. Family dispute specialists can help bring parents together, building on the common ground and shaping a plan that points the way ahead for the good of all family members, especially the children. Legal Aid remains available for family mediation. Clients that are assessed as being eligible to claim Legal Aid will be entitled to free family mediation. This money will not have to be paid back.


Parents who want to know more should contact Kent Family Mediation Service

New Year Alert For Kent Family Dispute Specialists

Couples in Kent who are looking to separate this January are missing the help they desperately need because they don’t know which way to turn, a Kent based family charity has warned. 


January sees a traditional rise in divorce and separation, and many Kent families have emerged from the festive season having been battered by pressures on finances and relationships that were highlighted during the holiday. 


Staff at family dispute specialists, Kent Family Mediation are on New Year alert, gearing up for a huge increase in calls, emails and website visits. 


“At a time of crisis, you need to know where you can turn for help,” says Debbie Hillman of Kent Family Mediation.


“There will be many local couples who’ve decided for sure in the last couple of weeks to separate, but they’ll need more information about their options as they look to make arrangements for parenting, property, and finance.   


“Many will think they must head off to a solicitor to prepare for a very expensive and protracted court room confrontation in which they can achieve a ‘victory’ over their ex. However, there are alternative approaches that are quicker, much cheaper, and much less stressful. “


“There is no need to leave it to a court to make vital life-changing decisions.” 


“You can instead choose to talk with a professional family mediator who will help you agree on the vital things that need to be sorted for the future. Family mediation is a much, much quicker process, allowing you to remain in control of all the decisions affecting your family’s future.”


“Professional mediators are highly skilled third party negotiators with experience in helping families create long-term solutions that work well for their particular circumstances. Rather than leaving it to a court to decide who will live where, what happens to the money, debts, and pensions, and arrangements for the children, mediation empowers families themselves to decide these things.”


Kent Family Mediation Service has professional, accredited family mediators that can help families resolve all the practical, legal, emotional, and financial issues that arise from separation. Most importantly, they can help families make long lasting arrangements that benefit their children.


Legal Aid remains available those who are assessed as being eligible to claim it, entitling them to free family mediation.


Make a referral to arrange an appointment for family mediation in Kent.

New Year Ahead – Are you promising yourself a better future in 2018?

As Big Ben chimed in the New Year, many people will have made promises to themselves or to their nearest and dearest about making changes that will improve, or enrich their lives. Perhaps promising themselves a healthier lifestyle, a better job, spending more time with their children, or by just taking more time for themselves. Making even small changes like this can have a big and positive impact on a person’s quality of life and indeed many of these changes can be made easily and without any significant or major upheaval. Making minor changes to one’s life are one thing, however, what if these changes involve splitting up with someone you live with, or are in a relationship with, or getting a divorce from someone that you are married to.


A divorce is one of the most stressful events that can happen in a person’s life. Moving house is also high up on the ‘Most Stressful List’, but what if splitting up with someone also involves moving out of the family home? This would count as a ‘double whammy’ on the stress factor list!


“Should I stay, or should I go?”

When faced with this huge, life changing decision, some people might decide it is safer and more sensible to stay put and to make promises to themselves, or their partners to try to make the relationship work, perhaps by going to marriage guidance, or relationship therapy together. Whilst other people may be of the belief that their relationship cannot be saved, and have therefore made the decision that, there is no future for them with their partner.

Making the Break

Making the break can be extremely difficult, especially if one person is not happy with the decision, is wondering which one of them, (or whether both of them) will have to leave the family home, has nowhere to turn to for help, and does not know what their options are.


Family mediation can be extremely helpful for anyone in this situation. Family mediation is far cheaper than going through lawyers and family mediation is quicker than going down the legal route. Family mediation is more amicable and far less stressful than sorting matters out acrimoniously in court. Affordable family mediation fees can be paid for privately, or they can be free if someone is assessed as being eligible to claim Legal Aid. A MIAM (mediation information & assessment meeting) has for some time now been compulsory in most instances before an application to start Court proceedings can be made, and very often Court Judges will make an order in Court for opposing sides to attend family mediation with a view to them sort out matters between themselves outside of the Court process.


Family mediation meetings will take place between a qualified, experienced family mediator and both people who want to end their relationship and these will take place away from the family home, in a neutral, safe, and supportive environment. It is a mediator’s job to be impartial, realistic, and knowledgeable in their approach to gathering both people’s wishes and goals in respect of the arrangements for any children of the relationship, what happens to the family home and how any debts, savings, pensions, or other assets will be divided up. The family mediator will act as a guide and facilitator to the discussions and negotiations that will take place and the family mediator will help both people to weigh up all the options before reaching an agreement that both people will find acceptable. The mediation agreement will also take into account any needs, or wishes of any children of the family and discussions can include making plans about the best way to go about telling the children about the separation. Agreements reached during family mediation can be made legally binding without the need to have to go to court.


There are a number of Family Mediation Centres in Kent. To arrange an appointment for Mediation, you will first need to make a referral.

Valentine’s Day Mania leaves a bitter taste for Kent’s Heavy Hearted

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be the most ‘romantic day of the year’, conjuring up mental images of romance; candlelit dinners, wedding proposals, red hearts, chocolates, and flowers.


Those of us who are commercially aware will have noticed that shortly after the festive season was over, the retail industry had already started promoting the sales of cards and gifts in anticipation of St Valentine’s Day on 14 February. In addition to the retail hype, on the day itself, a frenzy of ‘Valentine’s Day mania’ will spread across a wealth of media sources from; TV adverts, magazines, newspapers, and online news features. There will also undoubtedly be many millions of Valentine s Day posts flooding onto social media platforms depicting cheesy cartoons, slushy poems, amid photos and video streaming of loved up couples declaring their undying love for each other.  


Debbie Hillman of Kent Family Mediation Service points out, “With so much hype surrounding Valentine’s Day these days, that wherever we go or whatever we do, there really is no getting away from it. Valentine’s Day can be an extremely upsetting time for many people; especially if they have found themselves single through no choice of their own and ‘Valentines Day’ can leave them feeling very resentful.” Debbie goes on to explain, “We often see mediation clients who feel desperately unhappy and alone at this time of year and they cannot move on after the relationship split because they are still locked in arguments with their ex over children, finances or the family home. Unresolved arguments can leave them feeling angry and this can be exasperated especially if they parted with their ex on bad terms. Family mediation can bring a great sense of relief to these people, who may (for many months, or maybe even years), have been entrenched in arguments or bad feeling, with their ex partner, husband or wife and other extended family members. Family Mediation enables people who that have been affected by a divorce, relationship split, or family separation, to discuss, negotiate, and reach agreements with their ex or another person. With the help of a trained family mediator, they can meet up, in a safe and neutral place, outside of court to reach a mutual agreement, which can be made legally binding. Family mediation can help them to both to draw a line under everything and empower them to move forward with their lives, whilst also putting the needs of any children first.


Family mediation is less acrimonious and it is much more cost effective that going down the legal route. Contrary to popular belief, Legal Aid is still available for family mediation and anyone who is assessed as being eligible to claim it will receive free mediation, with the other person in the case also benefiting from a free mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) and a free first mediation meeting once eligibility is confirmed.”


Make a referral for family mediation in Kent 

Mother’s Day – A chance to rebuild family bridges post-family separation

With our thoughts turning to Mother’s Day on Sunday 11th March, one cannot help trying to imagine how many Mother’s Day cards may be bought in celebration of Mother’s Day.


To give some insight into the number of Mother’s Day cards that may be sold, last year’s National Statistics office for 2016 stated that there were 12.7 million families living in the UK. Assuming that every, Mother was to receive a card that is a record-breaking number of cards!


According to Charity Gingerbread statistics there are now approx. 2 million single parents living in the UK, which highlights the sad fact that because of a family breakup, a great number of Mothers, or indeed Grandmothers may not be receiving a card this Mother’s Day.


Debbie Hillman from Charity Kent Family Mediation Service explains, “When a relationship breakdown happens between parents, very often the dynamics of that family unit will change. If the parent’s separation was not amicable, or there are unresolved issues over money, child maintenance, child contact, or the family home, this can cause a great deal of hostility between both parents, grandparents and other extended family members. Sadly, following a parent’s separation, through no fault of their own, children may lose contact with the other parent and that parent’s family.


Fortunately, there are ways in which bridges can be re-built, people can learn to communicate with each other once more, and these relationships can once again flourish; Family Mediation being one of them. Family Mediation works by giving people of opposing beliefs the opportunity to sit down in a neutral environment, with an impartial, trained Family Mediator. Family Mediation allows people to discuss sensitive issues, to look at things from all perspectives and at the same time diffuse any conflict and feelings of negativity to enable both sides to focus on the facts and to find a way forward by way of a mutual agreement. Agreements made in mediation can be made legally binding without the need to go to court and agreements do not necessarily have to be about children, they can instead include other matters for example disputes or disagreements over a property, pension, will and general finances. There are 12 mediation venues in most towns across Kent.


Legal Aid is still available for family mediation. Family Mediation is free for anyone who is assessed as being eligible to claim it, and this will entitle the other person in the dispute to a free first mediation meeting and a free first mediation session. Find out more about legally aided and affordable, private family mediation in Kent.

Family Mediation Services

Family Mediation is the courts preferred way of resolving an argument, or issues that occur after a separation, or the breakdown of a relationship;including sorting out child contact, the custody of a child, child support maintenance and disputes…

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Separated Parents Information Programme

Kent Family Mediation Service are pleased to announce that we have been granted a contract to provide Parenting Information Programmes in Kent on behalf of Cafcass. We hold the SPIP courses in a number of locations in Kent…

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