Families left in conflict over childcare issues in the aftermath of domestic abuse, divorce or separation are being given a helping hand to sort through their issues.
A mediation service run by Impact Family Services aims to support couples as they go their seperate ways to deal with problems which will impact on their offspring.
Separating parents, by law, have to at least meet with a mediator to discuss the separation and options before court proceedings can be issued.
This aims to cut down the time in court and to show all steps were taken to settle differences over child contact, finances and other issues.
The service is just one of a number offered by charity Impact Family Services to bring all the support, advice needed when it comes to seperation and family disputes under one roof.
Family mediation does not try to keep separating couples together.
Instead, a professionally qualified third-party mediator helps empower them to reach post-separation agreements in the best interests of their family, rather than having agreements imposed on them by the family courts.
Other disputes which are looked at include what should happen to the family home, any other property and the options available when considering sharing other assets and debts.
Mediation is a confidential and voluntary scheme which could be funded, depending on a financial assesment, through legal aid.
A mediator will determine whether mediation is suitable for a couple going their seperate ways.
For those deemed suitable, a appointment for both parties to attend is then set up.
A spokeswoman for Impact Family Services said: “Impact’s Qualified Mediators are all registered and accredited with the Family Mediation Council (the main body regulating the profession).
“They are committed to helping you make workable decisions and to move forward in a positive way.
“They will not tell you what to do or take sides.
“You stay in control of decisions affecting you and your family.”
Mediation is thought to be a more quicker and less confrontational way to deal with issues arising from a divorce or seperation.
Through it’s range of services the charity has supports on average 3,000 families a year.
Some services are funded, others are made possible through donations and fundraising.
The charity is currently running its Creating A Home campaign.
Launched last week, they are aiming to raise £8,000 - cost of running the project for a year - within 16 days to ensure the project continues.
As well as cash the project also relies on donations of good quality second-hand furniture.
The scheme helps to give those who escape their abusive partners the chance to start a new life and create a safe home for them and their children.
With funds raised from the 16-day campaign, the charity will be able to buy essential household furniture including white goods, pay for emergency accommodation and provide funds for essential removal costs.
To donate visit www.mydonate.bt.com/charities/impactfamilyservices or visit www.impactfs.co.uk and use the donate button.
There is help out there:
Options (Impact Family Services): For women who are suffering domestic abuse - 0191 456 7577. Out of hours 07921 395508 or 07545 08671.
Mens Advice Line: For men who are suffering domestic abuse - 0808 801 0327.
Northumbria Police Choice Helpline: For those suffering honour based violence - 0800 5999 365
Broken Rainbow - Support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are victims of domestic abuse - 0300 999 5428
Young Person Violence Advisor - for those aged 13-17 who are in an abusive relationship - 0191 427 2850.
Apna Ghar - for women from the ethnic minority suffering from domestic abuse - 0191 456 4147.