Mediation is an alternative method of finding resolutions to the problems faced when a relationship or marriage breaks down. Mediation is not a path to getting you back together, it is not marriage guidance or counselling, it is about helping you to separate in a positive manner, and allow you to deal with issues such as finances and children, and find a solution together that you both agree on.
Mediation is suitable for all couples, cohabiting, married, heterosexual or gay. The relationship does not have to include children, but can deal with a wide variety of family situations.
We can discuss all the issues that are of concern to you both such as arrangements for the children, including their schooling and holidays; how money property, pensions, and businesses are to be dealt with; whether it is appropriate for there to be maintenance paid; even the future care of family pets! It is for you to decide what issues are important to you to discuss, something that you are often unable to do in court, or sat in front of your solicitors’ desk. In many cases, people find that by simply talking about these issues and explaining their feelings, plans can be made together, agreed, and then documented. The documents can then be used by your solicitor, if necessary, to prepare legally binding agreements. By using a neutral third party, the mediator, there is a much calmer environment to work through these problems, and all parties are there to find a positive solution that everyone can live with.
Mediation can be both a complement and an alternative to the normal legal process people may consider when separating. In the traditional process, each party would engage a solicitor, and would then start to send letters between to attempt to come to a position where an agreement is drawn up. With mediation, you sit down together and talk about what you want and listen to each other directly. At LW Family Mediation, your mediator has 20 years’ experience as a family solicitor, and can help explain what courts can, and can’t get involved in. By using this method, decisions can be made much faster, and agreements are much more likely to last, as they have be understood and built by the couple themselves, based on understanding, not handed down by a court.
If solicitors are already involved, they can be told of your final mediation agreements, which can help formalise any other documents that they are involved with.
During the process, we request both parties fully disclose all financial information, and will help you to understand what is important, and how to get this information. We also look at all the other concerns that you have as individuals, and together, come up with a plan that explains all the issues and details the resolution to these. These documents are then drawn up and both parties then sign these. There are two key documents that formalise the agreements in mediation.
Firstly, there is a ”Memorandum of Understanding” or “MOU”. This summarises the outcome of the mediation and the proposals for settlement. It provides a clear summary of the terms of the settlement, then, if needed, either or both parties can then seek legal advice and then turn this into a legally binding agreement. This is a confidential document, and cannot be produced in court as standard, but if both parties agree, then it can be shown in court proceedings.
The second document is an ”Open Financial Statement” or “OFS”. This is a factual document, no opinions, just the facts regarding each party’s financial information (eg. Bank Accounts, Pension Funds, Property Values, Debts etc). This is an open document that can be referred to in court, or to support a “consent order”.
Now you know the basics of what mediation is, and what the desired outcomes are, click here to read more about how to get started and what to expect