The conference Chair, Michael Mack (CEO of The Family Mediation Trust) will introduce you to the format of the day.
The report ‘What About Me?’ was prepared by the Family Solutions Group, a sub-group of Mr Justice Cobb’s Private Law Working Group. This report followed two other significant reports in 2020 on private law issues: the Private Law Working Group report (‘The Time for Change, The Need for Change, The Case for Change’) and the report of the MoJ Panel on Harm in Private Law (of which Mr Justice Cobb was a member). The recommendations of these reports have far-reaching implications across the family law landscape; designs for a reformed private law system are being discussed. Mr Justice Cobb will issue a challenge to the attendees. The question is are we ready and able to respond?
As a magistrate; the Chair of the Cambridgeshire Family Panel; the Chair of the Family Court Committee for the Magistrates Association; and member of the Private Law Working Group - Tracy will outline the pressures she sees the local courts face dealing with the increasing volumes of Private Law applications. She will look at how magistrates and mediators can work closely to ensure that the courts are ready and able to support the cases that need to be in court.
As the Director of the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory - Lisa will explore who has been using the family courts. The research has highlighted how those from low income areas are more likely to be court users, and how 25% of users return to court with the same issues. How do these trends match those who engage in mediation?
The FMC has a crucial role to play in supporting mediators to adapt, change and identify new opportunities. They will be exploring how the work of the FMC and the changes in the courts will impact on mediators.
Having been working in family law for 40 years Jane will use her many years as a mediator and PPC to explore what the changes may mean to her, and to the mediators she works with.
Michael will introduce the afternoon session.
Professor Harold has researched the impact of interparental conflict on children and adolescents for more than 30 years, significantly influencing policy and practice specific to supporting parents and children in the context of parental separation and divorce. Professor Harold will review this work and highlight the role that family mediation can play in promoting positive outcomes for children and parents - also the importance of engaging evidence based strategies in effective practitioner support, intervention delivery and training.
Leeway is a specialist domestic abuse charity giving them a detailed knowledge of domestic abuse and how cases present to professionals. The team from Leeway will explore some of the early screening approaches that can be taken and the mosaic of support available. They will also look at how the Covid-19 lockdowns have impacted on domestic abuse.
Adrian Wright will lead a discussion session, with the support of Jane Bridge and other Trust mediators, to explore how the issues of mental health and domestic abuse can be managed through the mediation process.
The sessions will explore early screening for issues through MIAMs and how screening needs to be maintained throughout the cases. Adrian will look at how approaches such as co-mediation and shuttle mediation might assist. This session will include group discussions in workshops.
Professor of the Psychology of Education and Mental Health, Cambridge University
The Family Mediation Trust is hosting its first annual conference for practicing family mediators. The event draws together some of the sector’s leading mediators, professors and judges to provide attendees with the knowledge and tools they will need to take on the challenges we will be seeing over the next 12 months.