“I have not seen my child for forty-two days!” – the mother said when she entered the office. She was directed to mediators by the Office of Children’s Services where she applied for help in order to bring back her son. Mediation process started after initial meetings with the parties to this family conflict – the mother and the father of the minor child. “For last three years we have been talking less than we do here with you”, the father told in the end of the joint meeting. As a result of this meeting parents agreed that the son may temporarily live with each of the parents. There was a lot of further work to restore trust and confidence that the parties lost after the words they told each other and pain they caused to each other; each of them earned a lot of pain during all the years of difficult divorce. Family mediation process in divorce cases is aimed at facilitating communication and taking joint decisions as well as at restoring relationship between parents; all this helps parents to better understand the needs of their children during the divorce period or after the divorce and provide the children necessary support and help.
Mediators: Tetiana Bilyk, Anna Zubachova
A lady asked for help with restoring relationships with her teenage daughter. They grew apart recently.
From the lady's words on the initial meeting: during the last year her daughter turned to be more vulnerable and lost self-confidence, had communication problems with family, classmates and friends. She became more detached and started to avoid the contact with her mother. Girl's parents are divorced for five years. Each of them has gone for another marriage at this point. The girl lives with her mother and step-father and visits father's new family for one weekend in a month.
From the girl's words on the initial meeting: "I was 7 years old, when my parents had divorced. I had been sent to the seaside to my grandma and grandpa and had no control over the situation. After coming back, I've entered parents’ room and thought - where is Dad? Then second, third, fourth day... Eventually I've asked Mom - where is he? She tried to explain, that they decided to live separately for a while and they still love each other. And Dad said the same things. But I was totally confused with what is going on. While I was not aware, what have happened, I had no feelings about it. And after that I became uneasy. Now I envy those of my friends whose parents are together." When the mediator asked, what divorce meant to her, she said: "Divorce is not a death of one of the parents, but now in each family they love me only for a half."
In most of the cases parents try to hide all the conflicts from their kids and divorce "by agreement of the parties". However, such silent divorce is very destructive for the child. Kids are very sensitive about the adults with whom they live. From the first days of their life they think that they are able to help the adult. If kids have no clue, what is happening with their parents, it causes a lot of tension. In the absence of any information child would suffer even more, than if the adult would tell about something upsetting. Family mediator could help parents to understand the importance of such conversation. This will protect kids from the stress caused by divorce and separation, which massively affects the parents themselves.
After the gird had an opportunity to talk together with her Mom about the secret separation of her parents, she managed to deal with her frustration. This helped to restore the relationship with her mother, who finally understood reasons behind her daughter's behaviour. On the other hand, the mother had an opportunity to explain the motivation to keep the details of the divorce secret, aiming to keep her child away from extra stress. This session allowed them both to have a thoughtful dialog, which helped to see which missing parts caused such a dramatic misunderstanding between them.
Story No. 3
After painful divorce, the father was reluctant to ask ex-wife of anything and waived from meetings with his son. Last time they saw each other was when the child was two years old, and now, after five years, the son did not know who his father is. “When the son grows up, he will decide without his mother’s influence whether he wants to meet with me or no”. said the father at an initial meeting with mediators. Despite receiving monthly alimony, the mother filed a suit to deprive the father of parental rights, saying, in support of her position, that the father does not want to perform his parental duties. The father, in turn, in order not to be deprived of parental rights got under necessity to file a suit to claim participation in nurturing his son.
As a result of the work that has been done by the family mediators with this couple, each of the parents withdrew his/her lawsuit after having realized that their child suffered of his father not being present in his life. Mediators alsфo worked with the son after which the son met his father.
"I'm totally lost and I do not remember where I should go to stay for tonight. Dad and Mom agreed that I would take turns to spend the nights with them. I'm tired of constantly moving around and quite worried that I'll mess up the days, and my parents will take offense..." - this is the story of eight-year-old girl, who has two homes after her parents’ divorce. Parents asked for help with scheduling the meetings between the father and the child. The father wanted to spend more time with his daughter, while the mother had the right to control the place where their daughter would live. After including the child into family mediation, the parents realized how difficult it was for the daughter to keep that schedule - to take turns, which they have agreed after the divorce. The parents have realised how worried their daughter was and took responsibility for the fact that parents were not able to cope with the crisis in their lives. Even if they were trying to do everything possible to ensure that each of them was happy, they exposed themselves to very traumatic experiences.
Ivanna is 7 years old. After the divorce, her parents, Yulia and Kyryl, feel they do not have enough time to spend with their daughter. Meeting all together is not possible due to constant arguing between them. Kyryl made an application to District Children Care Service to increase the number of days to see his daughter from 3 to 4. Yulia doesn't see this to be any good for their daughter and has several questions and demands of her own. During the first two meetings with the parents, agreements were made for all disputed issues, except from the schedule of the child's meetings with the father. Mediation slowed down. With the consent of the both parents, an individual consultation with Ivanna had been held. This had changed the process dramatically. It turned out that Ivanna wants to see each parent, but is physically tired by moving around and confused when and where she is sleeping. After discovering this fact, the parents came to the agreement that Ivanna will stay at her father's place on Monday and from Thursday till Saturday. The rules were formalized by a written agreement.
Mediators: Angela Krychina, Svetlana Stadnyk.
Child counselling: Tetyana Bilyk
Father of a 5-years old boy made a claim to the District Children Care Service. He asked for the right to see his son. His ex-wife prevented him from taking part in their child upbringing and didn't allow to see him at all. On the initial meeting the mother and the father had agreed on the intention to resolve the conflict through the mediation. Parties divorced about a year ago and now live separately. The son lives at his mother's place. The father had married again. On the first meeting the mother expressed the interest in having the father back in the family. Further mediation allowed her to accept that the marriage could not be restored. This helped her to stay focused on her child's needs. Thanking to the flexibility of the mediation process and the authority of the mediators, parties were able to realise that they still are the parents and have responsibilities to their child, despite of the divorce. Their own values and feeling should stay aside because of the child's interests. In the course of mediation, it was discussed whether the boy could attend sports and educational classes, buy board games, books and toys according to his taste and choice. The mother's mandatory condition was taking her and her son's religious views into account. In between the mediation meetings, father had a chance to meet his son several times to the great pleasure of them both. Initially the mother participated, then observed their meetings from the distance. She also kept the right to control all the gifts and treats. Despite of the progress they achieved, all of the father’s proposals (the holidays with the son, the weekends, visiting the grandparents, the material support) faced strong opposition of the mother.
After some time, the parents eventually have agreed on signing a mediation agreement, which outlined the rights of the father to take his part in upbringing of the son, financial participation and the list of exact conditions. On the last meeting during the discussion of the agreement the mother proposed a visiting schedule - the son will stay for 2 weeks consequently with each of the parents, to which the father happily agreed. That was the first day after a while, when the son went to his father’s place, right from the kindergarten.
Mediators: Yulia Dubenko, Ludmyla Bakhmut