Mar 04


Pancake Day for the Family

I remember growing up as a Roman Catholic that pancake day was always looked forward to with great excitement.  Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday was traditionally the day before fasting began for Catholics during the season of Lent.  Our parent-imposed sacrifice was to give up all sweets and chocolate from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday – a very difficult feat for a child and even more so for three of us!  So Pancake Day became a feast of pancakes.  Mum would mix up the batter and the amount would depend upon how many pancakes were made.  If we didn’t eat our dinner, then we wouldn’t get any pancakes so dinners were duly wolfed down so that the pancake-making could begin.  We would all want a go at tossing the pancakes and sometimes dad would go overboard and hit the ceiling – yes, a wasted pancake but it created good memories of childhood.  Our pancakes were eaten with sugar and lemon juice, still my favourite today.

The next day being Ash Wednesday we would all feel very proud of ourselves as we announced to anyone that would listen that we had given up sweets and chocolates for Lent.  School brought us down to earth with a bump as the season of Lent was supposed to be about thinking of others and looking at ourselves and how we could improve ourselves.

The lack of sweets and chocolates seemed to kick in after about a week and we would begin counting the days until we were allowed any.  Children at school said that we were all allowed a break on a Sunday but this met with short shrift from mum!

Dad gave up alcohol throughout Lent and missed his pint after Church on a Sunday – he also looked forward to Easter Sunday!

The season of Lent was very difficult but it taught us something about self-discipline and gave us a sense that as a family we were all in it together.  That soon went out of the window, however, when mum would produce the biggest store of sweets on Easter Sunday morning!

Families create their own traditions and the memories, good and bad, live with us forever.  Whether parents are together or apart, they can still create their own traditions with their children to look back on.

Aug 25

Divorce and Mediation Fixed Fee Package throughout East Kent – £1,000 between you until the end of September

Divorce is traumatic enough without the costs involved in litigating matters that cannot be agreed upon.

At Deal Mediation Services we have come up with a surprisingly cost-effective package to enable you to move on with your life.  Throughout East Kent we are offering a Divorce and Mediation package at £1,000 between you which includes:

1.  assistance with the paperwork for your divorce – no legal advice will be provided;

2.  up to 6 hours of mediation with a legally-qualified mediator to disclose your financial information and discuss options for your divorce settlement;

3.  a financial summary being drawn up by your mediator providing at-a-glance details of the whole financial position; and

4.  a memorandum of understanding being drawn up by your mediator detailing all proposals reached within mediation.

You will then need to consult a solicitor to draw up a Consent Order to make any proposals legally binding at the conclusion of your divorce.  We are able to refer you onto lawyers that are committed to providing fixed fees.

This is an extremely cost-effective package and provides an opportunity for you to move on with your life without it costing a small fortune.

The package is suitable for people that are able to agree the terms of their divorce in mediation.

If you would like to speak to someone about our mediated divorce packages, then please call 01304 800001 or contact us online.

Apr 23

Top Tips when considering Divorce

If you have reached the unhappy decision to separate or divorce, then you cannot go far wrong with a mediated divorce.  Mediated divorces are far more amicable than traditional divorces and assists with helping both of you to understand each other’s needs and interests rather than fighting tooth and nail over who gets what.  A mediator will request full financial disclosure from both of you in the same way as a solicitor will.  The only difference is that you are both in the same room so that any misunderstandings can be cleared up straight away.  This makes the process much, much quicker enabling you both to move on with your lives instead of being financially stuck and emotionally entrenched over a long period of time.

If children are involved, then both of you can look at what is in the best interests of the children.  It is always best for children to have as much contact as possible with both parents as they will be going through an emotional upheaval too.  Children can become very confused when their parents are separating or divorcing and many blame themselves.  Within mediation such issues can be addressed and you can both discuss how best to let your children know what is happening.  Much research suggests that children like to be kept informed but this needs to be done in a way that reflects their ages.  Children should not be made to bear adult problems.

If you are considering a mediated divorce, then these are our top seven tips to get things right:

1.     Keep an Open Mind

If you both have fixed ideas of what you are expecting and are not willing to budge, then this can cause problems.  By keeping an open mind, you are permitting yourselves to explore all options to see what is best for all concerned.

2.     Listen to each other

You will be surprised at how much anger can be diffused if you listen to what is going on with the other person and what their concerns are.

3.     Be kind to yourselves

Guilt and blame may be playing a part.  Forgive yourselves and each other.  Both of you are going through turmoil, regardless of who has made the decision to end the relationship. You may have reached the end of your relationship but this also signals new beginnings.

4.     Be realistic

Your joint household income will now have to accommodate two separate households.  Unless there is an opportunity to increase your income, this can be extremely difficult for separating couples to come to terms with.

5.     Be fair to each other

Many divorces end up in Court because one person wants to make the other pay.  This only reduces your assets!  Both of you need to be housed; need contact with your children; and need to be able to live.  Things will change and you can determine whether this happens smoothly or with difficulty.

6.         Be flexible

There is more than one way to meet your needs and interests.  Mediation can help you to explore all options.

7.         Decide whether you want to be right or want to get it sorted!

Past hurts can prevent you from moving on with your life.  If you have both decided that your relationship is over, then why waste time being right?

Apr 04

The demise of Legal Aid for Family Matters is not all doom and gloom

You may have read recently that legal aid has gone for people looking to separate and divorce.  This is true, although it will still be available in extremely limited circumstances such as where domestic abuse has been a factor in the relationship.  This means that people will have to either pay privately for advice from solicitors or deal with it themselves.  Organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to help, although few will have family solicitors on their rota.

It is not all doom and gloom, however.  If people are willing to co-operate with each other, mediation offers an extremely cost-effective way of resolving matters arising out of divorce and separation.  The parties sit together with a mediator and work out the terms and settlement of their divorce.  Since both parties are sitting together, there is much less chance of misunderstandings and questions can be readily raised instead of going backwards and forwards between solicitors.

Financial matters are much better resolved through mediation since it is a much quicker process.  This means there is less time for tensions to begin to destroy any initial co-operation between the parties.  This can only be good for everyone concerned.

If children are involved, then contact arrangements can be sorted out through mediation and any concerns discussed and talked through.   For reasonable people looking to do what is in their children’s best interests, mediation is a positive way forward.

For more information about mediation, please visit my website at or call me on 01304 800 001.


Feb 07

Mid Staffs NHS Failings – how Workplace Mediation can help prevent such problems in the future by Cathy O’Mahoney

The CIPD’s recent quarterly survey concludes that employee engagement is at a record low in the public sector.  Employees apparently feel that they do not have a voice and that decisions are made by senior leaders with little consultation with staff.  This can lead to low morale with job satisfaction deteriorating.  I imagine that this happens not just in the public sector but in some of the private sector too.  If employees do not feel that they are important enough to contribute their views, or have their views considered, then they will not feel that they have a stake in the success or otherwise of their organisation.

Let’s be frank about this – people matter – and every person within an organisation contributes to the running of that organisation, however small a role it may be.  Every person needs to feel valued for the sake of their own self-esteem as well as for their families and communities.  A simple way of promoting this is through dialogue within the organisation as though each person matters.  In what seems like a lifetime ago studying jurisprudence at King’s College, I came across John Stuart Mill and ‘On Liberty’.  Much contained within this book holds true today just as when it was first published in 1869.  One of the parts that resonated with me most at the time was the statement that “we can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavouring to stifle is a false opinion”.  When people feel valued, they can contribute greatly no matter what their role within an organisation.  More importantly, they can help foster a culture of accountability.  But when people feel undervalued and unimportant, then organisational weaknesses are more likely to go unchallenged leading to such failures as in the Mid Staffordshire NHS which has resulted in the most dire of tragedies.  Our hearts must go out to the families who have lost loved ones due to circumstances beyond their control.  Lessons must be learned and both management and staff ought to be encouraged to contribute their views but in many cases this would involve changing whole cultures within organisations.

This is where workplace mediation can assist.  If you are truly committed to breaking down barriers to communication within your organisation, workplace mediation is the perfect medium to enable this to happen.

If you would like to find out more about workplace mediation and how this can assist your organisation, then please contact me on 01304 800001 or click here.

The original CIPD press release can be accessed below.

Dec 04


If you are in the middle of a separation or divorce, or are dealing with a workplace or business problem, sometimes it is difficult to see the wood for the trees.  Mediation is an extremely flexible way of dealing with issues, empowering you to keep control of all matters between yourselves and, with less opportunity for misunderstandings in communication, this can help to reduce much of the conflict that leads to litigation.  This, in turn, can eliminate the need for stressful, expensive Court hearings, keeping legal costs to a minimum.

Mediation is, at its simplest, a confidential way of assisting you to work out your problems together so that you decide how to proceed in an informed way.  All options can be looked at and discussed and the mediator will impartially assist with reality-checking each option to see how it could work in practice.  And with costs ranging from £30 to £100 per person per hour dependent upon circumstances (and no VAT!), it is extremely cost-effective.

For family mediation, and where children are involved, then contact matters can be fully explored keeping in mind what is best for the children and, with property and financial matters, similar disclosure is required from you as would be required by a solicitor or the Court. This is taken seriously within mediation to ensure that both parties negotiate on a level playing field. It is only once you are both aware of what is in the “pot” that you can really begin to negotiate on finances.  When you are ready to take legal advice, this will be on a fully prepared and informed basis.

To dispel any myths, mediation is not counselling and neither is it marriage guidance, although such services may be recommended to you by the mediator if considered to be appropriate.

For a free initial individual assessment so that you can see whether mediation may be suitable for you, contact Cathy O’Mahoney who is a non-practising solicitor with over twenty years’ experience in the legal field.  Evening and weekend appointments are available in addition to normal office hours so what have you got to lose?

Call:  01304 800 001  now.

Nov 29

Mediation in Folkestone launch a great success – 01304 800 001

The Mayor of Folkestone and the Chairman of Shepway District Council came along to Deal Mediation Services’ launch in Folkestone at the Folkestone Complementary Health Centre at 4 Westcliff Gardens. The day was a great success and many more people are now aware of the benefits of mediation.

Thank you, Jan and Richard at the Folkestone Complementary Health Centre, for making the day run smoothly. It was a pleasure to meet so many people and lovely food was provided by Joy from the Citizens Advice Bureau.

If you would like to know more about mediation or wish to make an appointment at the Folkestone Complementary Health Centre to discuss how mediation may assist you personally or in business, please telephone Cathy O’Mahoney on 01304 800 001

Nov 09


We are delighted to announce the launch of our mediation service in Folkestone on 22 November 2012.

If you are around Folkestone on that day, please drop in to find out how mediation can assist you with family, business, employment and other disputes.  Mediation is another way to resolve disputes and can also be used by divorcing and separating couples for financial agreements regardless of whether or not there is a dispute.

Initial appointments are always free.

For more information, Contact Cathy O’Mahoney on

01304 800 001

and see the invitation below.



Oct 23

Christmas Doesn’t have to be an Ordeal

Christmas can be an extremely difficult time for parents that have separated. Not only are the parents dealing with their own emotions after the break-up, they also need to make decisions about where the children will be during the Christmas break. If children are involved in the decision, then they may choose to be with the parent that they believe will be hurt the least rather than what they really want to do.Although tensions may be high, children need to know that they will be safe and comfortable wherever they are and that both parents are okay with that. It is never too soon to discuss the arrangements so that everyone knows what is happening. If it is not possible for parents to spend any time together with the children at Christmas, children ought to feel able to telephone the absent parent and also to contact both sides of the extended family if that is their wish. Grandparents, aunts, nephews and cousins on both sides are important sources of support for children both now and in the future.

It may be possible for the children to spend a part of Christmas day with one parent for lunch and to spend Christmas dinner with the other parent. This will, of course, depend upon the proximity of the parents to each other. There are other options, for example, the children spend one day with one parent and the next day with the other parent, in effect having two Christmases. The possibilities are endless once you think about it and it may take some imagination to make it work. Rather than hanging on to the traditions of the past, it may be time to introduce some new traditions that the children can enjoy with each parent. If parents co-operate well together, engaging with each other to talk about Christmas presents so that there is no duplication, Christmas may turn out to be a real joy for the children with each parent. Extended family could also be involved as well if that is what the children want. What is important is that the children enjoy Christmas and do not feel guilty for not being with one parent at any particular time. This will take great efforts from the parents to ensure that the children know that neither parent is left alone at all during Christmas.

Many of us have wonderful memories of Christmas and if parents are able to create such memories for their own children, albeit in separate places, then their children will grow up secure in the knowledge that their parents were able to put their differences aside for their sake.

Oct 02


In recognition of the first family dispute resolution week, we are pleased to offer an initial free meeting to all of those people contacting us and attending their first appointment during the month of October.  This appointment will provide you with all of the information you need about dispute resolution in family matters.

We are pleased to offer appointments in Central London and Kent locations including Deal, Broadstairs, Margate, Dover, Folkestone, Canterbury and Faversham.   For more information, contact us on 01304 800001.


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