DREADING THE DIVORCE DEBACLE? by Angela Du Plessis (mediator)

Many couples ’post-divorce experiences seem as if they are still in a marriage where the bonds of love have been replaced by bonds of hatred.

  • Research has shown that it is not the divorce per se that harms the children, it is the level of conflict between their parents that the children witness.
  • Divorces that end up with adversarial lawyers who fight with each other to get the best deal for their clients may be protracted and end up extremely costly, beyond most couples’ resources as they face establishing two homes for themselves and their children.
  • Lying at the heart of any divorce process is a series of conversations required to make all the arrangements necessary to “unpick” a marriage. These can be tough negotiations in any circumstances but the emotions surrounding divorcing can render the conversations difficult and extremely fractious.

Mediation as an alternative to litigation for divorcing couples offers a quicker and less expensive alternative. In this process, a neutral third party assists couples to reach decisions in an amicable ways that sustains the relationship between the couple for the sake of co-parenting.

  • Not all divorces lend themselves to mediation as there has to be a level of cooperation and collaboration between the parties. The mediators are trained to assist in dealing with communication patterns between the couple that may inhibit decision making. The major concern is of course the welfare of the children and decisions taken are “tested” against what is in the best interests of the children.

Family Life Centre is a well-known and respected NGO that has been involved in family matters since 1949. During the early 1990’s they added Divorce Mediation to their wide bouquet of interventions.

  • A co-mediation model is used where a legal practitioner and a mental health practitioner together assist the couple to reach agreement. The outcomes reached are in the hands of the parties and the mediators may give guidance, but not legal advice. The “magic” of mediation is this very thing: the couple have a shot at finding their own solutions to splitting up the family and feel the satisfaction that they are the architects of the outcome.

In addition to mediation, Family Life Centre offers a legal consultation, where advice on the legal aspects of divorce and dealt with.

  • Whether it is for yourself or family and friends, please consider mediation as an option to drawn out litigation. Most couples need between 3 – 6 one and a half hours sessions. Fees are charged but at reduced rates as the mediators are volunteers, and can be negotiated if the financial circumstances of the family are precarious.

By:-  Dr. Angela du Plessis an accredited and experienced mediator in divorce and labour matters. She has an MSc from Oxford University and a PhD from Wits in Social Work

Parenting Skills Training for Post-Divorce Parenting will take place in Parkwood –  facilitated by Heidi Reynolds a Counselling Social Worker.



Venue:          1 Cardigan Road corner Crescent, Parkwood, Johannesburg

Times:          19h00 to 21h00

Dates:           10, 17, 24, 31 October, attendance of all 4 evenings is essential

Cost:             R1500 per person paid in advance for all for the complete course

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