Family Mediation enables a separating couple to resolve issues and details of their separation or divorce. Mediation gives couples the power to devise their own agreement and they are in control of the timing, process and outcome.
The first step is for you and your ex partner to sign the Agreement to Mediate.
You will first have a Mediation, Information and Assessment Meeting. We will work out what you expect from Mediation and whether it is suitable and explain its function and cover any concerns you may have.
It is important to remember that anything you wish to be resolved you need to raise with the Mediator.
Next you will each need to complete some easy questionnaires:
- General background
- Finances (and supply bank statements P60s etc)
You will need to complete all 3 if you are mediating on both children and finances otherwise just the relevant questionnaire needs to be filled in. The questionnaires will be sent to your ex partner.
If a separating couple has children this will be the first matter to sort out. Often a parenting plan is agreed. They can then Mediate on financial issues such as the division of the capital assets and responsibility for any debts and whether one party needs financial support on a monthly basis from the other.
If you do not have children the Mediation will be to resolve the financial matters.
Sometimes couples Mediate on the divorce itself, for example, who will divorce who and on what fact.
Mediation can be individualised to suit whatever issues the couple choose to discuss.
There are ground rules to Mediation which need to be agreed beforehand. It is not appropriate for people to carry on their arguments and disputes with the Mediator expected to referee. Both are expected to treat each other with respect and attend Mediation with the focus on achieving a solution and outcome not a continuation of grievances.
Once we have all the financial information we will draw up a schedule of the assets and any debts – both individual and joint and we will ask you both to agree this document as a summary. This is important as we will be using this as a working document throughout the mediation. If either party has any concerns about the other’s financial disclosure – i.e. they think that their ex is hiding something then it needs to be raised and dealt with before matters move forward.
It is then possible to proceed with joint mediation. If you wish the meetings can be held individually but mediation works quicker and is cheaper and is less likely to breakdown if the sessions are held jointly.
The purpose of the mediation is to uncover the issues, the options available, consider whether you can compromise and attempt to reach a fair settlement that you both can live with. Neither party should expect to get the best deal for them, but should be seeking a workable outcome. The Mediators will assist but not direct – the Agreement is that of the separating couple and as such is more likely to be upheld by them in the future.
When an agreement has been mediated we will first congratulate you and then produce a Memorandum of Understanding. This should then be taken to your solicitor, who will give legal advice on its terms and draft the Consent Order which needs to be filed with the Court in order to convert the agreement into a legally binding document. Or convert it into a Separation Agreement – depending on your personal circumstances.
You can come back to mediate at any time if new issues arise, such as a change in financial circumstances, so that maintenance needs to be renegotiated, or if there are issues with regards to the children. Mediation can help reduce acrimony and resolve tension between couples – both at the time of separation and in the future.