If you’re looking to solve any differences between you and your ex-partner following divorce or separation, using mediation can help you come to a mutual agreement. The process has many benefits, including:
Mediation works best when those participating have received independent legal advice from specialist family mediation solicitors. You may also seek advice from other professionals, such as pension experts and accountants, if required.
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Firstly, a mediator will meet with each party individually so they can explain their point of view without the presence of an ex-partner. This allows you to have an open and honest discussion, outlining any concerns you may have and what you’d like to resolve through mediation.
Having these initial meetings helps to build a relationship with the mediator and prepares you for the joint sessions. You can choose how you’d like to run these sessions, whether that be face to face or via video call. Each party is given an equal opportunity to speak and be listened to.
It’s important to think about what you want to get out of the mediation process before you start. Identify the issues on which you and your ex-partner are struggling to agree and make sure to discuss these during the joint meetings.
You’ll need to fill out a financial disclosure form if you’re trying to reach an agreement on issues relating to money or property. You’ll have to provide all your financial information, including:
You’ll likely be sent this form ahead of your first mediation appointment. Alternatively, you can collate any relevant bills and bank statements to take to the initial meeting.
While mediation isn’t free, it’s a cheaper alternative than going to court. You can discuss the exact cost of the process with your divorce mediation lawyer.
It’s advised that the cost of mediation is split between both parties. This is to ensure that both you and your ex-partner have equal contributions to the sessions and are satisfied with the outcomes. The fees can be paid for via a joint account or savings, or as part of a financial agreement.
Alternatively, it’s worth checking if you’re eligible for legal aid to cover the costs. While Stowe Family Law are not contracted with the Legal Aid Agency, it is available in certain circumstances, including family mediation.
Once an agreement has been reached, your mediator will write a ‘memorandum of understanding’. This is a document that confirms your agreement in writing; both parties will receive a copy.
If your agreement is relating to money or property, you should take your memorandum of understanding to a solicitor, who can then turn this into a ‘consent order’. That way, you can take your ex-partner to court if they don’t abide by the rules of the agreement.
If you find that you can’t come to an agreement with your ex-partner, we recommend you talk to a specialist solicitor who can advise you on what to do next.
If you’ve tried mediation but still disagree on issues relating to money or property, a will likely suggest sorting things out in court. However, if the disagreement relates to your children, the solicitor may advise that you keep trying to reach an agreement between yourselves.
There are still options for you if you’d rather avoid going to court. For instance, you could consider a ‘collaborative law’ session, where you’ll work with a solicitor to reach an agreement.
You could also try family arbitration. This is where an arbitrator – similar to a judge – will come to their own decision on the things you and your ex-partner can’t agree on.
We understand that emotions run high following the breakdown of a relationship. While many couples will want to come to an agreement about children or finances, some may find this more difficult than others.
Mediation is a voluntary process, so you cannot force your ex-partner to contribute if they don’t want to. If they are reluctant, it’s worth trying to convince them to speak with a mediator first before making a decision. This can help them understand how the process works and whether it is suitable for them.