Tyler and Abi

Tyler and Abi Mason’s case was referred to NFM mediators following the initial directions hearing at the court.  
44 year-old Tyler had applied for contact to be defined. He felt that his ex-wife Abi, 41, was limiting contact in an obstructive way. They have two children, Aaron, 9, and Madison, 11. 
At the start Abi said Tyler did not deserve any more than minimal contact as he had left the family for a younger woman, and that the children did not really want to have much to do with their father. The Court adjourned their case for six weeks for them to try mediation.
After initial separate Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) it was apparent each parent saw the other very much as the source of the problem.  Abi felt very angry at “being dragged to court” whereas Tyler felt he had no choice as he was in danger of losing his relationship with Aaron and Madison.
The first joint mediation session was challenging.  Abi took every opportunity to criticise Tyler for leaving her, and he in turn accused her of taking his children away from him. 
However the mediator, Martin, was able to help them see that both were hurting in different ways. Both were afraid of loss: Tyler’s fear of losing the children was obvious, and Abi was able to admit that having lost her husband to a younger woman, she was also afraid of losing the children who might see John’s new partner, Natalie, as more fun.
Later sessions focused on reaffirming their roles as parents and reassurances that neither need “lose” the children. They began to look at the situation from the children’s point of view, caught in the middle of Tyler and Abi’s obvious anger and frustration, and old enough to be quite aware of the conflict and bitterness..
Abi was able to appreciate that Natalie did not want to compete for the children’s affections and indeed was quite nervous about how to respond to them. Tyler was able to see that he needed to go gently in introducing Natalie to the children rather than demand his rights.
They agreed they wanted to test a programme of contact and built in a review of how things had gone for three months later. This provided a useful ‘safety net’ as both parents were anxious that their plan might fail. The court was informed of the initial outcome and adjourned the case for Tyler and Abi to test their arrangements. After the review meeting Tyler felt able to withdraw his application for defined contact.
At the three month review both Tyler and Abi agreed to continue the arrangements.
“I think a bit of the bitterness I felt towards my ex-husband will always be with me, but I do feel the mediation process started the healing,” says Abi. “Life isn’t perfect, and we realise it won’t be the same as before but I think we have all moved on and Aaron and Madison are both now much more settled.”
This is a real case study from our trained mediators, though names have been changed to protect identities
Next case study: Read about Sandy, Linn and Evie
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