If you have come to the unhappy conclusion that your relationship is over and want to take the first step to find out your legal position it can be a very intimidating and daunting thought with the worry of how long it is going to take and what it is going to cost.
There is a lot of information on the internet about divorce and there are sites set up to help you get one. Actually getting divorced is a relatively straight forward process if it is not contested and not many divorces are nowadays. A divorce can take as little as 4 months. It may seem a long time but it isn’t.
Sorting out the children and the money are the difficult areas and no amount of information on the internet can replace face to face advice from an experienced solicitor who will give you advice tailor made to your situation. Each case is different and there is no set formula for any financial outcome, only a range of reasonable likely scenarios. Ultimately a court can make an order but the reality is it is only the multimillionaires who spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on legal fees who can afford to have a final hearing. For the rest of us it is best to sort the matter out sooner rather than later to save your money and keep more of the assets for both of you.
Also, if you have children you will always be their parents and one day you will both want to be at their 18th or 21st birthday, graduation or wedding and it is better for you both to maintain a civilised relationship with each other as much as you can to prevent your children from being scarred by their parents’ divorce. The children will suffer if you make it hard for each other but they won’t if you both remember that once you did love each other and may even have vowed to be together until death parted you. You should remember that you still love your children and so if you have decided to separate you should divorce your loved one with the dignity that at one time you would have bent over to give to them.
Believe it or not it is possible to separate from your partner in a friendly and dignified manner, not spend a fortune and not leave a wake of destruction behind you. It’s called Mediation. Mediation is not counselling. It is not about trying to get back together. It is about accepting that the relationship is over and looking to the future and trying to find your own solutions to the arrangements for the children and sorting out the money and the property.
The Mediator is impartial. He or she does not take sides and cannot give either of you legal advice by telling you what is in your best interests but they can give you legal information about what the court can and cannot do and what is likely to happen in certain situations. Before starting Mediation it is a good idea to get legal advice to find out what could happen in your situation but it is not essential to do so before starting the Mediation. If what you and your partner are discussing is totally outside what the court is likely to find acceptable the Mediator will tell you and also he or she will tell you when it is time to get legal advice. This may be when it is required to progress to the next stage or when you have made proposals and you need to know your legal position.
Mediation isn’t a second best to court. It is an alternative and is far more cost effective and an agreed outcome between you and your partner is more satisfying than an order imposed on you by a Judge or an order which you have to concede to as you are being advised to do so. As is it is your solution it is also more likely to work and this is particularly important when it concerns the children. There are no winners or losers in court divorce settlements as any outcome is at a cost both financial and emotional to each person.
In Mediation you both have to give to each other full details of your financial situations just as you do if you use a solicitor or apply to the court. In either situation you have to give full and frank disclosure and you can ask each other questions about the information provided but in Mediation you do so face to face with each other in the presence of the Mediator who can also ask questions. The exchange and examination of financial information takes just a few hours in Mediation whereas it can take months and cost thousands of pounds if undertaken by solicitors or in the court proceedings.
All the discussions in Mediation are Without Prejudice which means that they cannot be referred to in any future court proceedings should the Mediation break down. There are exceptions to this such as if there are any child protection issues. If the Mediation is successful the proposals will be incorporated in a Memorandum of Understanding which is also Without Prejudice and is not binding but the intention is that you will then take it to your solicitors for it to be made into a binding agreement. This can be an order in divorce or a separation agreement.
All financial information given in the Mediation can be used in any future negotiations or court proceedings should the Mediation break down so there is nothing wasted in the financial disclosure process.
Mediation sessions are 1 1/2 hours long. The average number of sessions for financial solutions only is 4 to 6 and for children only 1 to 3 and for both 4 to 8. The length from start to finish depends on the availability of each of the participants including the Mediator and is often determined by the information that is required before the next session. The Mediator helps you manage the process and guides you in what information has to be obtained but you set the Agenda for what is to be discussed at each meeting.
The legally trained Mediator’s hourly rate may be the same as or slightly more than a solicitor’s hourly rate but it is shared between both parties and therefore the overall cost is far less than you each having a solicitor.
Mediation makes sense.
Antoinette Doyle of Martin Shepherd Solicitors LLP is a trained Mediator and Family Law solicitor. She has been dealing with Family law for over 25 years. She is a member of Resolution an association of Family law solicitors who adopt a non-confrontational approach to family law disputes and adopt a code of practice. She is a Resolution accredited specialist in Financial settlements and Cohabitation disputes. If you want any information about Mediation or any Family law matters please contact Antoinette Doyle on 0208 367 3230 or email@example.com.