FLiP FACULTY APPROVED PARENTING COORDINATOR - Belinda Jones
Following personal experience of divorce, I re-trained in law as a mature student, completing my legal studies in 2015 along with my training as an FMC family mediator in the same year. I have worked for a number of years with leading Cambridge family lawyers, also running my own business as a family mediator and mediating disputes in the Cambridge Family Court, before deciding to launch Cambridge Family Matters, an innovative approach to family law which also seeks to find the kind of solutions for families that typically can’t be found in the adversarial nature of the court system.
I have championed mediation since my experience of court as a client in 2007. I felt the excessive financial cost of repeatedly returning to court, I witnessed the detrimental effect this has had on our children and I didn’t like the worsening of communication and the lack of control over decisions that court proceedings brought. I believe that even in the more hostile of separations, a good mediator should be able to help to create a more personal set of solutions and a new, more positive status quo for the post separation family.
However, I have become one of the first practitioners to train as parenting co-ordinator because sometimes mediation is not enough. It can only focus on specific practical issues, it cannot work with the underlying issues in the parents’ relationship and it does not provide the ongoing support that parenting co-ordination offers and which some families, and especially their children, can truly benefit from.
Parenting co-ordination helps everyone in the family dynamic to understand and to feel understood. I think this is what is most glaringly missing from the adversarial approach to family proceedings and it is always the children who suffer the most from this. Working with families in high conflict, we focus on putting the child at the centre of considerations rather than in the middle of the conflict, whilst recognising, absorbing and working with the often strong and difficult underlying emotions at play when difficult practical decisions are required to be made, and on an ongoing basis. At this highly emotionally charged time, I feel that what separated co-parents need most is support, understanding and calmness to see their way towards a better alliance for the benefit of their children and to thus work me out of a role in their lives.
Testimonial from a Client Changing Her Response to Conflict:
‘“Many, many thanks for your time this morning. I was very upset and worried. I still am to be honest, but you have helped me bring the balance closer to some sort of positivity and confidence. And that is enough to go through the day somewhat productively.”