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Family Mediation has never been needed more than now.

I have heard so many remarks about bullying, prejudice and demoralisation and how human relationships are in crisis.

I recently attended the 2020   On-Line Family Mediators Association (FMA) Annual Conference. The theme was mediating in a time of Change and trying to determine what is “the new normal in family mediation”?

At a time when there seems to be so much despair amongst families who are struggling  due to financial worries and no end of other troubles as the list is endless.

A lot of time was devoted at the Conference in reviewing the role of Family Mediators who have a strong sense of wishing to facilitate conversation. Like everybody else, there is a need for mediators to adapt and change but how far does this take us? Whatever we do, family mediators by their nature are out there to do what comes naturally to them…. Mediate.

I believe that mediation is a process that involves kindness and compassion.  We need a proper understanding of mental health and how it affects people not only during Covid but also when it comes to dealing with the difficult decisions to be made when divorcing and separating.  We too have to look after ourselves as we do others and to address our own mental health.


We have seen our divorce system change following the Divorce Act 2020 and are mediating in times of change which requires resourcefulness and resilience alongside compassion to achieve to help protect the wellbeing of families and mediators in times of isolation and change.

Compassion must be twinned with finding objective, reliable and safe outcomes in mediation to eliminate the weaponising of children who are so distressed when parents are in dispute and who live in fear of being left without seeing either one of their parents.  Then there is the fear of responsibility being placed on children who also suffer from mental health problems, anxiety and eating disorders to mention a few, because we have been living in uncertain times.   The mediator has to be aware of the impact of these problems and to work to understand possible cultural differences in order to be effective in helping people to make change that will help to rebuild better family communication, trust and fairness.

Mediators are not angels but they are usually very patient and willing to join in with the discussions between parties who are in dispute to find the next step in trying to move forward. The parenting relationship never stands still. Neither the court nor family law practitioners can make changes for others but it is possible to work towards minimising the areas of dispute so that minds can start working towards building a better future and to concentrate on making adult and children’s lives better now and in the future.

Tricia Muzalewski,   FMC and Law Society Accredited Family Mediator

Wynn Mediation                                                                                                              October 2020


Some parents are at odds as to why after all of the love and nurturing that goes on in the proverbial nest is lost when their children decide to gamble with their mental health.

This can happen so simply and without parental knowledge or at least the strength to acknowledge and to prevent their children interacting with drug dealers.

As children, we were told by everyone “Do not talk to strangers”.  There were dangers then and it was easier for parents to protect their children.  They had a better idea of what they were protecting their children from and our parents seemed to be tough.

The situation now has moved to “Out of control”.

Parents often have little idea of what their children are looking at and who they can turn to when they are learning about stuff that they know isn’t what their parents want them to find out about.  Just to be grown up and to be able to converse with these forces puts them ahead of the others.

So they believe.

It appears to be worse for children whose parents have indulged them and who have a bit more money to spend and to offer children additional opportunities.  They soon become targets for those who have not had the same opportunities.  There may even be evil intent.

Young teenage boys have always wanted to be tough but somehow the message has to be given that there is nothing tough about a drug addict or the person who has no boundaries in regard to what they are drinking and   what they smoke, or worse.   Some of the products available through pushers are irretrievably dangerous.

Even if they eventually manage to kick an addiction they can be scarred for the rest of their lives. They won’t have any friends then.

Sometimes it is the happiest and most beautiful young people who are affected and who become vulnerable to the practices of drug taking which is so often akin to drinking drinks that don’t appear to contain much alcohol.

I am sure that most young boys and girls see their parents as wishing to spoil their fun.  It takes a strong family to help guide children through these dangerous and unprotected times.  It can break families. There is no blame attached to this because family structures have changed. Parents are both expected to work in order to bring in much needed cash for the benefit of the family.

However, parents must not be naive when it comes to checking up who their children are in contact with.   This does not mean they do not love and it does not amount to disrespecting your child.

Younger children, teenagers and kids in their 20s who want to be accepted and noticed  by their peer group, cannot have any understanding of how the innocent acceptance of a “joint” from a so called friend  can start a downward cycle that may affect them for the rest of their life.

The offer to simply try a drug when under the influence of a few drinks may come from a source with intent to make that young person a target to influence them.  Once hooked, it becomes easy to impose harder drugs on the unsuspecting youngster.

Parents, by that time, no longer have the ability to communicate with their son or daughter because they hear lies and assurances that are fragile at the very least, in terms of truth.    It is too late by then especially if your son or daughter has become impressed by the initial ease of life when experimenting.

Your child may even be targeted by an adult who, maybe, they have never even met, and who wants to adopt a younger friend because of their own shortcomings with their own peer group.  That person will not have the slightest hesitation of imposing a drug culture on your child especially if there are rich pickings to be enjoyed by future supply as most drugs are totally addictive.

All children need to be educated in the negative aspects of using drugs.  People seem to want to make changes to themselves all of the time.  This again is due to the strength of media targeting. It is so easy to get in to a youngster’s head and to make them feel inadequate if they remain as they are. Such intentions to change another are generally fuelled by jealousy and hatred.

This culture may also bring down a family.  Parents start to feel guilty for not approaching their children sooner.  There may even be a breakdown in communication between the parents, especially where there is a separation.  At the time, it sounds so negative and unnecessary.   Next, they are out of control and when dealing with a young adult, you will find there is no one out there to help, and, especially, from the person who you are actually trying to help.  Zero acknowledgement as the paranoia has already set in.

The impact of drug abuse also affects relationships as many who use strong drugs have little self control and are subject to mood swings.  They simply cannot engage. Children lose out all of the time.  Realistic help, alongside professional advice, needs to be obtained in order to actively help young people before it is too late for themselves to make changes.

The mental health and psychiatry services offered under the NHS cannot possibly meet the needs of all.   If you are able to get treatment, the difficulty is maintaining compliance with the effective anti psychotic and other types of medication available.

We are witnessing sad and lonely people walking around the streets who have lost the ability to converse and enjoy simple warm social conversation. They are unable to engage in close relationships or to parent children themselves due to their own mental health issues. Many suffer from psychosis, paranoia and schizophrenia. This is terrifying and hard to acknowledge once it takes a hold and a person remains unmedicated.

They do not see the need for medication themselves and most people turn a blind eye.    This is not surprising as an unmedicated person who has suffered the side effects of drug taking will not be an attractive prospect to sit and chat to.   There needs to be help to encourage treatment for these poor youngsters who risk being lost forever because they have gone beyond listening or to acceding to the good wishes of their family, nor from having a role in society.

We hear of the son or daughter who has chosen to stop engaging in prescribed medication and who lives in a world of delusion and paranoia.  He or she comes back from time to time but the condition gets worse enhanced by drinking.

What happens next?

Families and friends lose any influence or the will to help because of the monstrous ill effects of those early joints smoked on the walk home from school. This is often done to impress and then moves on to a completely new league which few manage to escape from.

The friends, who once thought it was cool to laugh, move on with their lives and pay no regard to what happened to their friend who got caught up in drugs, for whatever reason.

Apologies for being so negative but as a family mediator, I hear about the lonely path for a mother and father who actually still love their son or daughter but appear powerless to do anything other than offer love which is invariably thrown back or simply frozen out.

If this story affects you and you feel that family mediation can help you to communicate regarding a dispute with a close family member further to a marriage break up or separation, please contact:

Tricia Muzalewski, FMCA and Law Society Accredited Mediator at Wynn Mediation 612 – 614 London Road, Westcliff on Sea, Essex SS0 9HW.

Contact details:


Tel: 01702 341241

PMM/ August 2018




The law regarding cohabitation disputes has seen a development.  An article reported in the Times, entitled   “Woman who used fiancée as cash cow wins half of £1.7m home.”

The woman, aged 43, won her argument on the grounds she was supported by her partner during their 16 year relationship. She relied upon the premise she was given jewellery and hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash by her partner.   There was no marriage and at the end of the relationship they fought over their shared possessions.

The other party to the dispute, aged 46, alleged she had been pressurised by her partner into putting the house in Chingford, Essex, under both of their names within a year of purchase in 2007, for £1.4 m.

The claimant, Ms Ladwa argued the relationship was like a conventional divorce and hence, she was entitled to half of the property.  There appears to be a perception on the part of the second party, Ms Chapman, that she had been unduly generous once she had assimilated the strength of these arguments.

The gifts provided to Ms Ladwa, unemployed during the relationship lasting since 2000, included an Aston Martin, shoes, bags and designer jewellery.  There had also been a proposal of marriage on two occasions on the part of Ms Chapman.

Ms Ladwa was also in receipt of an annual allowance of £25,000 from her own mother.

At the end of the relationship and their separation, Ms Chapman sued Ms Ladwa for the value of the house and for the return of “loans” and gifts. She did not succeed.

From the judgement, it would seem the judge, Judge Stephen March, decided Ms Chapman had the economic strength in the relationship. The gifts and money were construed not as loans. They were gifts and hence, should be held onto by Ms Ladwa. She would not have been in the financial position to repay any of these.

If you have to sort out a dispute regarding property and other assets, you are welcome to contact Wynn Mediation with a view to mediating.  These cases are very expensive if taken to court. Mediation is cost effective and offers both parties the opportunity to put their respective cases forward. The mediator is trained to try and remove the hostility that exists where there has been a particularly acrimonious breakdown in a relationship.  The parties need to focus upon legal principles to ensure that they find a fair outcome towards resolving their dispute.

Please contact Tricia Muzalewski, Accredited Family Mediator and previously a solicitor.

We are Wynn Mediation at 612 – 614 London Road, Westcliff on Sea, Essex SS0 9HW.

www.wynnmediation. com       E Mail: enquiries@wynnmediation. Com       Tel: 01702 341241


PMM/Wynn Mediation                                                                                                                 August 2018


She is right of course in spite of the irony of the Times article quoting Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia that she wants schools to help pupils view marriage as “the most important decision they make”.

Baroness Shackleton is described as the top divorce solicitor.  She has represented Prince Charles and Sir Paul McCartney in their respective divorces.

Important quotes from the article are:  “Marriage is not just about the heart, it’s a practical arrangement …….. which has to survive to rear children”

The Times article is linked with the recent decision published from the Supreme Court ruling  and that underpins the long and existing principle that a couple has to prove in court that their marriage has irretrievably broken down if they wish to obtain a divorce in this country.

The contentious issue has been the limited grounds that must be cited to prove irretrievable breakdown and. in particular; the grounds relied upon where unreasonable behaviour is cited. This particular aspect has been criticised over the decades by many tip top lawyers and judges who say the current divorce law is archaic and that leads to the call for the No fault divorce.

The basis for change would lie with the need to focus on the “untold grief” suffered by children where there is a broken marriage.   This is nothing new and my surprise  therefore that the call for change is coming from  family lawyers and judges who are jointly campaigning along with the press for change to allow the advent of the No fault divorce.

We live in interesting times and change will happen.  I believe there is little wrong with the existing legislation and my suspicions are roused as to the real reasons for mooted change.

The sadness for me as a family mediator is the lack of personal responsibility on the part of adults to commit and to limit their expectations of a marriage or a relationship.

Communication and mutual understanding is flaky.

The process of family mediation is not to keep people together but to enable them to discuss politely and respectfully their individual needs and have course the needs of any children of their relationship when it is breaking down.

Respect, truth and fairness are required by most people who I meet professionally.  By the time they reach court, it is probably too late because the majority of people are steered by the advice they have had and seem to lose the ability to think for themselves and to find the courage to discuss their views and feelings with each other.

This is why mediation has become so popular.

The mediator facilitates in a non partisan way and tries to remove the competitive edge of normal litigation.

Our ancestors did not have to deal with the modern day dilemmas of society. They were too busy working for future freedom of choice and peace and prosperity for their families. I do ask where this has got us.   This is time for reflection and for us all to consider how we may influence the future.

Marriage is a wonderful institution and I certainly support the words of Baroness Shackleton even though I suspect she is targeting the populous slightly too early in their stage of development.  Good luck to her and I hope that this effectively reduces the number of divorces and failed relationships in this country.

Tricia Muzalewski, FMCA and Law Society Accredited Family Mediator

Wynn Mediation  Contact details: email: or by telephone: 01702 341241                     August 2018



A book has been published by a novelist, Matt Haig about the dangers posed to our mental health, by   21st century living.  His book is entitled “Notes on a Nervous Planet” and comprises a series of short chapters and “Twitter style snippets” on how we can look after our heads better and why doing so matters.

According to Matt Haig, the identified rogue seems to be the Internet and he describes our addictive relationship with both internet and social media and of the destructive behaviour it encourages.

He describes our need to check updates on social media and he refers to “reductive Twitter spats” with complete strangers and the trait of needing to “pore over other people’s Instagram posts.”

What is the outcome of this practice?   According to Matt, it lowers our self esteem and he questions why we neglect our mental health in this way.  He is right of course especially if one compares the attention we direct towards meeting our physical health needs as opposed to managing our own mental stability.

Matt identifies a growing dependency  on social media and reflects on his own tendency to depend upon social media and which he believes led to  a recent bout of anxiety that he has linked to his growing dependency on this social epidemic.

He has also identified the need to accept a different view of one.

This reminds me of the skills of an accredited family mediator who is always looking to revitalise the skills of the parties he or she is mediating for and to ask what it is they hope to achieve, rather than what other people expect of them.

In turn, the personal skills of a mediator relate to seeking the best from a person in terms of rebuilding honesty and trust in themselves and each other.

Matt Haig’s book caught my interest as review in “The Metro”.  It is anticipated to be a best seller and it contains Matt’s findings about individual human traits, for example, he refers to women’s ability to talk and identify how people are feeling, as opposed to men for whom it can be more difficult to talk in this way.

In all mediation cases, there is one party who is far more at ease talking about their personal wishes and needs. The process requires both parties to listen to one another and to enable the mediator to hear what is being said by each on an equal and fair basis so that there is complete transparency and understanding.

I move into the realm of children which is especially pertinent to the world of family mediation.  The growth in equal parenting of children  requires both parents  to  consider the possible effects that social media has  on children and to help in trying to avoid the pressures of the need to compare our lives with the impossibly perfect lives put forward by others on, say, Instagram.

Within mediation, I encourage parents to concentrate on these external influences that affect the judgement of young and old in terms of our own expectations and of what we interpret as being human and normal behaviour.

So, we have to ask the question “Are we in control of our own wishes and expectations or has the pendulum gone too far the other way?”     How, therefore are children able to make sense of what is expected of them and what rules need to be put in place for their benefit to thrive in this great and confusing world when the influence comes not from their parents but from external sources such as social media. The writing is on the wall and parents need to work together regardless of whether they live together or separately.

Matt Haig refers to smoking and alcohol and the acceptance that cigarettes are potentially life-threatening. This is now recognised and, so, he compares “the impact of tech” as having a similarly life threatening physical or mental effect and he encourages the need to start becoming more mindful of our behaviour and the effects of this addiction.   I agree that we need to be aware and I look forward to seeing more about how we can control our relationship with social media as a way of protecting us from being ruled by our phones and indirectly by others in quite a sinister way.


Please contact Tricia Muzalewski, Accredited Family Mediator, at Wynn Mediation.

Contact by email: or by telephone: 01702 341241


TM, Wynn Mediation                                                                                                  July 2018