HOW TO BREAK UP AND FINANCIALLY SECURE YOUR FAMILY - WITHOUT COSTLY LEGAL FEES
When people separate or get divorced, the first port of call is usually the divorce lawyer. But it’s worth considering mediation as an alternative. Here’s how it works:
In mediation, the first step is for both of you to meet with a mediator on your own for an individual confidential meeting. This meeting gives you the opportunity to find out in detail how mediation works and decide if you think it will be appropriate for you. It also gives you a chance to tell the mediator your point of view.
Once you have both met with the mediator on your own, and you both want to proceed with mediation, we set up a joint meeting. All joint meetings are two hours long and we have as many of those meetings as we need in order for you to reach agreement.
At the beginning of the first joint meeting we will agree the issues to be discussed. We’ll also have a discussion about what you hope to achieve from the mediation process.
If we are talking about your children in mediation, it is helpful for the mediator to know a bit about them so that she can hold a mental picture of them whilst you discuss their arrangements. If we are talking only about arrangements for the children, then we list the issues and work through them.
We might use what is called a ‘Parenting Plan’ template to ensure we have covered everything. All agreements are written up in an ‘Outcome Statement’ or sometimes a full parenting plan is written up.
If we are talking about your finances in mediation, then you both have to do what is called ‘full financial disclosure’. You are required by law to do this if you want your agreement signed off by the courts. Full financial disclosure means bringing into mediation details of all of your assets and debts, income and monthly expenses. You need to summarise all the information on a form that the mediator will give you and you also need to supply copies of recent statements to back up all the information provided.
The mediator will go through this information with you both in a meeting to ensure that you agree that it accurately represents your individual and joint information. It is then written up as a joint Open Financial Statement.
If you have not yet received legal advice, it is usually suggested that you take the Open Financial Statement to your solicitors so that they can advise you on the likely outcome if the case went to court. They will also point out any legal issues of which you should be aware.
STEP FIVE Once the disclosure process is complete, we consider how you might both meet your financial needs in the future and how you might meet your goals for the mediation process. Often we come up with several options and we do our best to put figures to the ideas so that we can work out which are viable. This usually involves you going away and finding out extra information, for example, will a mortgage be possible, or what are the property rental rates in your area.
As we gather the extra information and discuss the various options, the right path usually becomes clear - then we can work through the details. Once everything is agreed and you both feel comfortable with the agreement, it is written up as a draft ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MOU). It is usually suggested that you show your solicitor the draft for their comments before confirming your agreement.
When the final MOU has been prepared, the mediation process is over. To make the agreement legally binding, you need to take the MOU to a solicitor for the preparation of what is known as a ‘Consent Order’.
Take the first step today - call me on 07706 513496 or email email@example.com to book your individual meeting or find out more about mediation.