In this blog, our family law solicitors offer tips on how to get the best out of family mediation to help you resolve your family law issue.
For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.
Here are some tips on getting the best out of family mediation:
1.Do you know where you are going?
That may sound like a stupid question but often mediation sessions take place at a mediator’s office and the location may be unfamiliar to you. Your mediation session will not get off to a good start if you arrive late or flustered.
2. Do you have time?
Most mediation sessions last for about an hour to an hour and a half. Sometimes they can run over a bit. It is best to avoid booking the mediation meeting on a day or at a time when you need to rush off to an important business meeting or to do the school run.
3. Is it the right time to mediate?
If a couple has been separated for a while, then it may be the right time to go to mediation. For others, the timing can be more complicated as one of you may feel too raw about the relationship breakdown to be able to engage in mediation.
It is always a balancing exercise because you do not want to leave starting mediation for too long but starting it before one of you is ready can be counterproductive. A spouse who is finding it hard to come to terms with the marriage breakdown might find it helpful to have a period of counselling before or during the mediation sessions.
4. The choice of mediator
Make sure that the mediator is right for you and your spouse or ex-partner. Your solicitors should ideally agree on the choice of mediator.
It can be hard to choose a mediator but do not be swayed by their location and convenience or your friend’s views. These can be important considerations but other factors may influence your decision. It may be the case that you know your spouse would feel more comfortable with a male or female mediator. You may be keen to accommodate their wishes to give mediation the best chance of working.
Your family finances may also be a consideration when looking at the choice of mediator. If you own a family business or have complex finances a mediator with a legal or financial background might best meet your needs.
5. The mediation agenda
At the outset of the mediation sessions, the mediator will normally discuss and agree on an agenda.
You may only have one item on your agenda, for example, to keep the family home or your pension. Although it is important that your spouse, your solicitor and the mediator know what your priority is, it is also important that other things and options are put on the agenda for discussion.
Mediation is a two-way process. That is why it is hard, as you need to listen to your ex-partner’s views to try to reach a compromise. Listening to them should ensure that they treat you with the same courtesy and listen to what you have to say. Mediation sessions can be emotionally hard and can sometimes bring up painful topics or memories. If it is too much for you ask for a break. It is better to have a break rather than continue when you are very emotional or upset.
7. Ask for explanations
Solicitors, mediators and spouses can all assume that you know what they are talking about when they use legal terminology or talk about financial matters, such as pension-sharing options or mortgage finance.
If you are uncertain, about what has been said or what is proposed then ask for clarification. A mediator cannot give legal advice but they can explain legal or financial terminology. You should also ask for a detailed explanation from your family law solicitor and not make any decisions about your options and any proposed agreement until you have done so.
8. The past is in the past
When you are in mediation, it can be tempting to go back over old history. Sometimes it can be relevant. For example, if one of you paid the deposit on the family home or received an inheritance. Sometimes going over old history just makes it harder to reach a compromise. For example, if you want to look at the reasons for the marriage breakdown.
Mediation is normally about looking at the future and helping you reach an agreement that will work for the family. If too much time is spent on reviewing what went wrong it can be hard to focus on reaching an agreement.
9. There is more than one option
It is very rare for there to be only one solution in mediation. There are normally many options and it is best to go to mediation without having a fixed view that your preferred resolution is the only acceptable option.
10. Do your homework
A mediator will often ask you to bring some paperwork or carry out some investigations before the next mediation session. For example, you may be asked to get an estate agent’s appraisal of your family home or to speak to a mortgage advisor to look at your mortgage options.
Even if you do not want to sell the family home or get a new mortgage, it is important that you do the homework. If you do not your ex-partner may get frustrated by the mediation process and start court proceedings. You will then lose the chance to try to reach a mediation agreement.
Talk to your family law solicitor
Mediation should not be carried out in isolation from legal advice. It is a common misconception that the mediator will give legal advice. They cannot do that. Their job is to act as an impartial mediator to facilitate an agreement. They therefore will not take sides or advise you.
Mediation works best if you have mediation support. That involves:
Talking about what mediation entails, looking at the alternatives and deciding if mediation is right for you. If there has been domestic violence or a power imbalance then an alternative to mediation may be better for you. If you have reached a broad agreement a one-lawyer amicable divorce service may meet your needs
Getting legal information and advice about your separation and divorce and the timing of the no-fault divorce
Getting advice about your financial claims, for example, you need to know if you have a pension claim and the legal answer will depend on whether you are or were married to your ex-partner or not
Explain why you need financial paperwork to help you reach decisions in mediation and, if necessary, review your spouse’s paperwork with you
Getting advice on the types of orders that a court might make if you or your ex-partner were to start court proceedings so you can make an informed decision about any financial or parenting agreement discussed in mediation
If an agreement is reached, prepare a draft financial court order or child arrangement order for a judge to then approve
All our family lawyers can support you on your mediation journey to help you reach an agreement on childcare arrangements or a financial settlement after a separation or divorce.
For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.
Applying for a Financial Court Order when you Have Reached a Divorce Financial Agreement
If you have reached an agreement with your ex-husband or your ex-wife about how your assets will be split after your divorce you may question if you need a financial court order. A divorce solicitor will tell you that a court order is necessary and explain what could happen if you don’t obtain an order.
For expert advice on divorce and family law call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
Why you need a financial court order
If you have reached a divorce financial settlement by agreement, you still need a financial court order. There are several reasons why you need an order:
It gives you financial security – if your ex-partner changes their mind and wants more than you originally agreed upon you can rely on the court order to prevent additional claims for cash. For example, your ex may say the original agreement was unfair because the value of your business has gone up more than the equity in the family home or that they need more because they did not get a share of your pension when they negotiated the financial deal
You can enforce a court order – you may think that your ex-spouse won't breach your agreement but, for example, if you agreed that the family home would be sold, they may be reluctant to sell the property if it means they have to downsize. A court order can include the mechanics for the sale and if a spouse is resistant to a sale the court can order that a judge has the authority to sign the transfer documents. You may think it unlikely that you will need to enforce an order but situations change, such as your ex-spouse or you meeting a new partner, and that altering the dynamics
Pensions – if your financial agreement includes pension sharing the pension administrator is not allowed to implement your agreement until they have a financial court order, pension sharing annex, and the final order of divorce
Third parties – you may need a financial court order where third parties are involved. For example, if one of you is at potential risk of bankruptcy with the involvement of a trustee in bankruptcy. For example, if a mortgage company will only transfer the mortgage into your ex-spouse’s sole name if the transfer is made under a court order or if there is a spousal maintenance order so your ex-spouse can persuade the mortgage company that they have enough income to be able to take the mortgage over on their own
Clean break – some financial agreements include a clean break to stop any future financial claims by you or your ex-spouse. If you have negotiated a clean break, it is important to have the security of a binding financial court order that endorses and confirms the clean break
Applying for a financial court order
If you have reached a financial agreement through direct discussion, solicitor negotiations, or family mediation there is normally no need to go to a court hearing to get your financial court order. Your divorce solicitor can send the paperwork to the court for approval and, in the vast majority of cases, a judge will agree to make the financial court order with no alterations to the draft order or only minor ‘drafting tweaks’.
Broken down into stages, to obtain a financial court order you have to:
Check there is an agreement that is capable of being made into a financial court order – if you negotiated your agreement direct then your divorce solicitor can check your agreement for you
Check if the court can make a financial court order – the court can only make a financial court order once you have obtained a conditional order of divorce. If you got divorced some time ago and have a decree nisi of divorce the court can still make a financial court order
Check if any relevant third parties are OK with the agreement. For example, the mortgage company if a house and mortgage are going to be transferred into one spouse’s name or a pension administrator if a pension sharing order is being requested
Draw up the draft financial court order and exchange it with your ex-spouse’s solicitor and make any changes needed
Swap statements of financial information summarising your assets and income. These statements are filed in court with your draft financial court order. The court will not approve a financial court order unless these statements are prepared and filed
Send the draft financial court order to any relevant third parties. For example, to a pension administrator for their approval of the wording of the pension sharing order
Ask the court to approve the financial court order by sending the court the required paperwork and court fee. In the vast majority of cases, the judge will make the financial court order requested if the order has been properly prepared and the statement of financial information explains why the court order has been agreed upon
Answer any questions the court may have on the proposed financial court order
Once the sealed financial court order is received from the court send it to any relevant third parties. For example, the pension administrator, financial advisor, or property solicitor if the financial court order includes pension sharing, investment transfers, or the transfer of property
Finalise the divorce proceedings as without the final order of divorce the financial court order cannot be enforced
Diary up. If the financial court order includes spousal maintenance your divorce solicitor should check and diary up review dates for increases in line with retail price index rises or end dates and make sure everything in the court order has been sorted out, such as the implementation of a pension sharing order, the taking out of life insurance or changes to a pension nomination
That list may look exhausting but the job of a divorce solicitor is to convert agreements into financial court orders.
At Evolve Family Law we recognise that if you have reached a financial agreement, you do not want to hang around whilst divorce solicitors get out their fountain pens to prepare financial court paperwork and then post it back and forth between spouses and solicitors.
Evolve uses technology to standardise and speed up the process of drafting family court orders, and as importantly, to make the obtaining of a financial court order more cost-effective and value for money for you.
It is the combination of experience and technology that means Evolve Family Law can offer transparent pricing and fixed fees for financial court orders. We are proud to say that we are one of the first law firms in the country to publish our fees online in a handy user-friendly guide without hidden extras as the quoted fees include VAT.
Some financial court orders are more complicated than others, especially where there are businesses or trusts involved, and in other situations, you may not be able to reach a financial agreement and so need advice on the financial court process. Whatever the situation you find yourself in, Evolve Family Law can help with friendly approachable expert assistance combined with transparent costs. The first step is to contact us to discuss how our divorce solicitors can help you.
For expert advice on divorce and family law call our team of specialist divorce lawyers or complete our online enquiry form.
You may have read in the news that if you are getting divorced you may be eligible to receive a £500 mediation voucher to help pay for family mediation. In this article, our divorce expert, Robin Charrot, answers your questions on the new mediation voucher scheme and looks at the importance of legal mediation support.
The family mediation voucher scheme
The Ministry of Justice has announced that it has allocated one million pounds to enable up to 2,000 separating or divorcing couples to receive a £500 mediation voucher to help towards the costs of family mediation.
Divorce solicitors say that competition for the £500 vouchers may be fierce as the Ministry of Justice says that the vouchers will be allocated on a ‘ first-come first-serve’ basis, rather than on a points or any other type of allocation system.
What does the family mediation voucher scheme cover?
The mediation voucher scheme covers family mediation on a range of family law issues, such as:
Financial settlement after a separation or divorce where there is also a dispute over children and either ongoing or potential children law proceedings.
Why has the family mediation scheme been introduced?
The family mediation voucher scheme has been introduced at this stage to help reduce court applications and to encourage the use of family mediation. That’s because the government believes that family mediation is a better, quicker and cheaper option than separating and divorcing couples starting family court proceedings to resolve child custody and contact issues or to secure a financial settlement.
When will the family mediation voucher scheme operate from?
The scheme was introduced on the 26 March 2021 under Practice Direction 36V (Family Mediation Voucher Scheme). The practice direction will expire after a year and the mediation vouchers will only be available whilst funding lasts.
Does the voucher scheme cover the cost of attending a MIAM?
The family mediation voucher scheme doesn’t cover the cost of attending the mediation information and assessment meeting (referred to as a MIAM). This initial meeting with a mediator is designed to check that mediation is suitable before family mediation is commenced. To be eligible for the voucher, both parties to the family mediation must have attended a MIAM on or after the 26 March 2021. One can't have attended the MIAM before the 26 March 2021 and the other after the 26th.
Can both parties to the family mediation receive a voucher?
The £500 mediation voucher is per family and may not cover the total cost of the mediation sessions as your mediation costs will depend on your choice of family mediator and the number of mediation sessions that you require. The voucher is paid direct to the mediator, rather than given to either party to the mediation to use to pay the mediator’s bill. The £500 mediation voucher is inclusive of vat.
Is there a financial eligibility cap for the mediation voucher?
There are no financial eligibility criteria for the family mediation voucher. Anyone who meets the MIAM date and mediation subject criteria may be able to secure a £500 mediation voucher to cover or contribute towards their mediation costs.
Who pays for family mediation if a mediation voucher isn’t available?
If you can't secure a family mediation voucher because:
One of you attended a MIAM before the 26 March 2021 or
You are mediating on a financial settlement only and there are no childcare issues to mediate or
The mediation voucher scheme runs out of funds or
For any other reason.
Then the usually the mediator will check if either one of you is eligible for legal aid to cover the cost of mediation. If neither of you are eligible for mediation legal aid then you will need to agree on how the mediation sessions will be funded. You can either agree to share the mediation costs equally or come to another agreement, such as that one of you will pay for the mediation sessions or that the mediation sessions will be paid for out of your joint savings account.
Even if you do secure a £500 mediation voucher, if you go to a number of mediation sessions the voucher may not the total mediation cost. That’s why it is best to agree on how you will share any mediation cost in excess of the £500 voucher.
Does the mediation voucher cover the cost of mediation support?
The mediation voucher doesn’t cover the cost of mediation support from a divorce solicitor. However, mediation support can be very cost effective. Taking legal advice before and/or after mediation sessions can help you understand:
Your legal options, such as the type of court application that you could commence or your former partner could start.
The likely range of orders that a court could make if you or your former partner started court proceedings.
The potential costs of applying for a court order or responding to a court application and the timescale for completion of the court proceedings.
The impact of any issues raised in mediation. For example, financial disclosure issues raised during the mediation process where you are trying to reach a financial settlement.
Whether proposals put forward in mediation are within the range of orders that a family court would be likely to make if either you or your ex-partner were to start family law court proceedings.
Legal advice on any aspects that are making it hard to reach a compromise in mediation. For example, if one of you believes that you have a legal right to equal parenting or one of you believes that an inheritance or a pension isn’t relevant to any financial settlement discussions.
The legal process to sort out your divorce or to draft a separation agreement or to secure a financial court order or draw up a parenting plan and the legal status of a financial court order or parenting plan.
By receiving mediation support and getting the legal advice you need during the mediation process you may be more likely to have the confidence to reach a mediated agreement. Evolve Family Law can help you with independent specialist family law advice before and after mediation to support and guide you, including advice on any of the post-mediation documentation that may be necessary.
We are Divorce and Family Law Solicitors
For legal help with your divorce and mediation support for your financial settlement or childcare arrangements call us or complete our online enquiry form.
Evolve Family Law offices are in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire and Whitefield, North Manchester but we also offer remote meetings by telephone appointment or video call.
As specialist divorce and family law solicitors we are regularly asked by divorcing couples if they can skip mediation and go straight to court. It is understandable why some people think that mediation might slow the court process down, but in some situations, mediation can avoid the need for expensive or protracted family court litigation. In this blog we look at the circumstances where you can skip mediation and go straight to court.
When Can You Skip Mediation to Resolve Family Law Issues?
Family lawyers say there are some situations where you and your ex-husband or ex-wife or separated partner don’t have to go to mediation before you can start court proceedings. Examples include:
Where the situation is a children law emergency – such as where you fear that the child will be taken overseas unless you secure a prohibited steps order to prevent child abduction
Where the situation is a potential financial emergency – such as where an estranged husband or wife is selling or transferring assets and you need the protection of a court order to stop them from disposing of assets to defeat your financial claims
Where there are domestic violence issues and you need the protection of an injunction order or it isn’t considered safe for you to engage in mediation.
There are other situations where family mediation can be skipped and you can start court proceedings without first attempting family mediation but family solicitors would question if that is necessarily a good idea.
What is family mediation?
Many spouses or separating couples want to skip mediation as they see it as a hurdle to overcome before a court will make a decision. However, lots of people don’t appreciate just how long it can take to secure a court order or how complex the process is. A specialist family law solicitor should explain all options to you so that you can make informed choices.
Family mediation is a voluntary form of non-court-based dispute resolution. The family mediator is an impartial third party who helps you reach a resolution to family issues such as child care arrangements or your financial settlement. The mediator should ensure that you both listen to one another even though you may not agree with what the other has to say. The job of the mediator to help you find a solution that works and is acceptable to both of you.
Normally family mediation takes place with a family mediator sitting in a room with both of you and the mediator uses their skills to help you reach your own agreement, rather than have an order imposed on you by a family court judge.
If that type of family mediation doesn’t appeal to you then either shuttle mediation or solicitor involved mediation can take place. In shuttle mediation you and your partner do not meet in the same room and instead the mediator shuttles between rooms to help you reach an agreement. In solicitor involved mediation each of you can have your solicitor involved in the mediation sessions as well as providing legal support outside the mediation sessions.
Why use family mediation to resolve your family law problems?
Although you may want to skip mediation it is best to take some legal advice before starting court proceedings as not all family law solicitors recommend the use of court proceedings to resolve every type of family law issue, whether it is sorting out who gets to keep the family home, how pensions are shared or the child care arrangements for the children.
You may have a preconceived view about mediation because it didn’t work for your friends or a family member going through a divorce or because you are worried that the mediator will side with your ex-partner or that you will be bullied into reaching an agreement. Talking to a family solicitor about your concerns about mediation can help and in addition you can:
Make sure that you get the right legal support during mediation so that you know your legal rights and the potential likely outcomes of any court proceedings
Get your family solicitor to help choose a mediator with the particular skills you need to try to make mediation work for you
If you are worried about being in the same room as your partner looking at the option of shuttle mediation.
What are the alternatives to family mediation?
If you don’t want to use family mediation or family mediation doesn’t work for you then there are other alternatives to court proceedings, such as:
Round table meetings
A specialist family law solicitor will talk you through the various options with the focus being to use a resolution method that gives you the best outcome for you and your family. In some situations, court proceedings are the only realistic option to reach a resolution. For example, where a former husband or wife is refusing to give financial disclosure so a reasonable financial settlement can't be reached in the absence of information that the court can order is disclosed as part of the court financial disclosure process.
An experienced family law solicitor won’t have a fixed view about the best method for you to reach a financial or child care resolution but instead will listen to your concerns and questions and help you work out the best option for you. They may say that skipping family mediation isn’t in your best interests as it could be the cheapest and quickest way of your reaching a resolution and that with mediation support from a specialist family lawyer you won’t feel as if you were bullied into a resolution that hasn’t been reality tested or that doesn’t meet your needs as you felt you weren’t able to express them during mediation.
Our Manchester and Cheshire Family Solicitors
Evolve Family Law specialise in separation, divorce , financial settlements and children law matters. For help with your family law needs call us or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our family law solicitors are experienced in working remotely and are offering meetings by telephone appointment or video call.
Emotional abuse is one of those tricky topics. Many people don’t like to admit that they are being emotionally abused because it makes them seem weak or thin skinned. However, the Covid-19 pandemic and the confinement of lockdown at home has made many people realise that it is time to confront emotional abuse in their relationship. In this blog we look at emotional abuse and your options on what to do about emotional abuse in your marriage.
What is emotional abuse?
As we gradually start to emerge from lockdown people are asking questions about their relationships, often because they have spent far more time with their partner in a relatively confined space than at any other time. Sometimes that experience has brought out the best in a relationship and at other times people have experienced far more physical or emotional abuse than they would normally have if their partner had been working or able to see friends and family. Sometimes, the stresses of working on the ‘’front line’’ in a key worker role has meant that a partner has brought their fears home with them and their behaviour has had a very negative impact on their partner and children.
Family law solicitors say that unless it is an emergency situation you should take time to think before you make any major decisions about your relationship. It is important to reflect on your partner’s behaviour and consider if it is emotional abuse. Whilst it is best not to make a rapid decision to separate it is equally sensible to look at whether what you are experiencing is emotional abuse and to ask yourself if there is any prospect of your partner or spouse recognising their behaviour as abusive and doing something to change their behaviour.
Sadly, for many husbands, wives, and partners, emotional abuse can become part of their daily life so they become inured to it. Often, it when their partner’s behaviour has turned on the children during lockdown, with the children being at home and underfoot all day, that the behaviour is seen for what it is; emotional abuse.
What is emotional abuse? It is difficult to define emotional abuse because unlike physical violence there is no obvious slap mark, bruise or fracture. The effects of emotional abuse are often not obvious but they are equally damaging as physical abuse.
Emotional abuse is all about control through the manipulation of your emotions. It isn’t a one off experience but is normally a slow and invidious process until it gets to the stage that you haven’t got the strength to leave the relationship. Sometimes it takes something as dramatic as the Covid-19 lockdown or seeing your partner start to emotionally abuse your child that is the ‘’wake-up call’’ to get help.
Emotional abuse isn’t about having rows, shouting at one another, or saying words you regret. We all do that in relationships, especially if we are under pressure because we are confined at home or are worried about work and financial matters. Emotional abuse is best described by example as it can be subtle. Examples of emotional abuse and controlling behaviour include:
Constantly belittling you from telling you that you are a fool, ‘’incapable of doing that’ ’and judging your efforts
Giving directions on what you should wear, how much you should eat, when you should speak, who you should see and if you can go out
If you challenge the behaviour, telling you that you are insane and that no one will believe you if you speak out
Refusing to speak to you or leaving the family home for days if you ask them to change their behaviour
Taking over control of almost every aspect of your life from money management and access to funds to making all the important decisions about the children and to making the decisions for you from who you vote for to your choice of hairstyle
Restricting you so you are not able to speak on the phone to friends and family as phone and internet activity is monitored and not able to meet with family because your movements are tracked or you fear that you will betray yourself and let something slip about having spoken to a friend.
Sometimes those in emotionally abusive relationships also experience physical violence. Many say that the physical violence is easier to cope with than the constant emotional abuse or living with a partner who is silent and won't speak for days because you have committed some minor misdemeanour.
Emotional abusers can temper their abuse with gifts and kind words thus giving you hope that they have changed or that they can't help their behaviour because they love you so much. This type of abuse is so subtle and powerful that people from all walks of life can find themselves caught up in an abusive relationship and not know how to get out.
What help can you get if you are in an emotionally abusive relationship?
Many people think that they can't ask for help because what they are experiencing isn’t ‘’domestic violence’’ or that ‘’no-one will believe me’’ or that ‘’I can't afford to leave’’. None of those statements are true.
An experienced and understanding family law solicitor will talk you through your options. Importantly they won't try to control your decisions or tell you what you must do. However they can guide you and support you, whether you decide to stay with your partner or decide that a separation or divorce is the best option for you and your family.
Many divorce and family law solicitors work with professional counsellors and therapists who can offer:
Joint sessions for you and your partner to see if the problems within your relationship can be addressed or
Individual help to an emotional abuser to get them to accept their behaviour for what it is or
Individual help for you to help you recover your self-esteem and confidence after years in an emotionally abusive relationship.
A family solicitor can help you with:
Advice on a temporary separation including whether you should stay in the family home and financial matters such as spousal maintenance and child support and short term parenting arrangements and contact (child arrangements order)
A long term separation or divorce with help with a separation agreement, divorce proceedings, child custody and contact and a financial settlement
Court orders to protect you such as an occupation order so you can stay in the family home or a non-molestation order.
Our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors
Whether you need legal help with an emotionally abusive relationship, a separation, divorce, maintenance, an injunction, financial settlement or children order the specialist but friendly and supportive team of family lawyers at Evolve Family Law can help you. Call us or complete our online enquiry form. We can set up a video conference, Skype or telephone appointment for you or arrange a face to face meeting at our offices in Holmes Chapel Cheshire or Whitefield Manchester.
You may get a call or a letter through the post asking you to go to Mediation to discuss the future arrangements for your children or to resolve whether you should sell the family home and how you should share the pension. That first contact with a mediation service can be very intimidating, not deliberately, but just because you perhaps have not initiated the contact with the family mediator or because you do not know what will happen at the first family mediation session.
Keeping an Open Mind About Family Mediation
Where do you start? Well as an experienced Manchester family finance and divorce solicitor I would say start with an open mind about family mediation. Some people think, from the outset, that mediation won't work for them because their spouse or ex-partner will be too difficult and won't be prepared to discuss or negotiate. You may be right but, in my experience, mediation sessions can result in even the most entrenched spouse coming round to a compromise. The question then is whether the compromise works for both of you. If so, the agreement that you reach in mediation can be converted into a binding financial court order that is approved by the court in divorce proceedings.
Solicitors and Family Mediation
Some people assume that solicitors don't believe in the benefits of family mediation. They assume that divorce solicitors want all divorcing couples to go to court to get a judge to decide how their money and other assets should be split. We're not like that, and we fully believe in mediation and support the process from beginning to end.
We do however accept that ‘’one size doesn’t fit all’’ – we fully believe mediation is the right option for some couples, but accept that for others court or arbitration are the best routes to reaching a fair financial settlement. Why do I say that? Well, if I see someone who is worried that their spouse is hiding money or transferring property or investments to family members, all the indications are that family mediation isn’t appropriate and that financial court proceedings should be started as quickly as possible to preserve the family assets, and, if necessary, get injunction orders.
On the other hand, if I meet someone who has been invited to a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) or to their first mediation session and they are feeling very daunted and a bit vulnerable because they don’t know as much about the family finances as their spouse then I see my job as to support the client through mediation support and not try and encourage them to start financial court proceedings. Ultimately, if mediation doesn’t work for the couple, court proceedings may have to be started but the non-court option should be explored first as , with a help from a Manchester divorce solicitor, the client can feel more empowered and less vulnerable during the mediation sessions.
Often separating couples think that consulting a divorce solicitor and going to family mediation sessions are mutually exclusive. They are not as a divorce solicitor and family mediator have two completely different roles.
As a Manchester divorce solicitor my job is to give you:
legal information and advice about divorce proceedings ; and
advice about the extent of your financial claims , for example , if you have a pension sharing order claim or spousal maintenance claim; and
talk to you about the information and paperwork needed to help you reach informed financial decisions in mediation ; and
the types of orders that a court might make if you or your spouse were to ask the court to decide on how your assets should be split – this isn’t to encourage you to litigate and go to court but to ensure that you can make informed decisions about any financial agreement that is discussed in mediation , bearing in mind the costs and risks of financial court proceedings ; and
Support between the family mediation sessions to help clarify what was discussed, review financial disclosure within the mediation sessions and explore your options; and
If agreement is reached in the family mediation sessions and the mediator prepares a memorandum of understanding setting out the agreement in broad terms then converting the agreement and financial information into a draft financial court order and financial statement of information for a judge to then approve and make into a binding financial court order.
Family mediation isn’t the easy option for spouses or solicitors as it takes a lot of courage for many spouses to attend mediation sessions. It also takes specialist divorce solicitors who are prepared to support you through mediation and work with the family mediator to give the mediation sessions the best chance of succeeding. Success often comes through a spouse feeling legally empowered in family mediation sessions by knowing what their legal rights are and having a divorce solicitor working for them and providing legal support in the background.
Appointments are available in Manchester and Cheshire, contact us today.