In recent weeks and months there has been significant media coverage of the on-going Court proceedings between Guy Ritchie and Madonna over their son Rocco. Until December 2015 Rocco had been living with his mother in New York. However, he accompanied her on her world tour and after a disagreement whilst the tour was in London he left his mother and went to live with his father.
A great deal of litigation has ensued both in the UK and in the USA all with the aim of trying to decide where Rocco should live. Madonna recently sought, and was granted, permission to withdraw the UK proceedings meaning that the matter will now be considered by a Court in the USA.
However, one solution that does not appear to have been given any consideration in this situation is Mediation, with the parties appearing to have gone straight to Court. In situations such as this, as Rocco is over the age of 15 if his parents went to Mediation to try and resolve the dispute, he would be invited along and asked to give his views on where he wants to live.
Whilst there is a provision in the court proceedings for a child to express their wishes and feelings through a Cafcass officer, Mediation in a situation such as this would have had the benefit for Rocco of enabling him to address his views directly to his parents himself as well as saving the extensive and costly court process with the adverse media attention that goes with it.
Therefore, in cases such as this, it is important to consider Mediation as an alternative. YEoung people often feel that they are not heard in disputes between their parents and Mediation would give the option for Rocco to put his view across on an equal basis.
Samantha Lee, Mediator at Swain & Co Family Mediation Service says, “Mediation is a route to try to ensure that disputes are dealt with as amicably as possible and without the need to turn to Court proceedings. Whilst it is often thought of as a way for two parties dealing with a financial split to come to an agreement, it can also be used to assist both parents and young people (over the age of 15) in disputes about where the child should live or how much time they should spend with a parent.”