I can''t even begin to advise you on what to do or what sort of settlement you should be getting, but I thought I should clarify the differences between mediation, collaborative law and negotiating through solicitors, as it seems to me you are confusing the three, and it took me ages to figure out the difference.
Firstly, the cheapest way would be to chat to your stbx, make an agreement yourselves and have a solisitor draw it up. This is then reviewed by a judge, and if he feels it is fair, he''ll sign it and it becomes a Consent Order.
Secondly, you have mediation. Mediation is where you and your stbx sit down with a trained mediator to discuss things and try to reach an agreement. Once you reach an agreement, it is advisable for each of you to take your agreement to a solisitor to get legal advice, because a mediator is not allowed to give you legal advise as they have to remain impartial. If your solisitor tells you you are being done, you might need to go back to mediation to re-negotiate. What is agreed is in mediation is not legally binding until it has been turned into a Consent Order. If your solisitor feels it is fair for you then it''s then the same steps as above. mediation is cheaper than going to court as you don''t have court costs and minimise solisitors costs by negotiating directly yourself. However, you have to be able to trust that your stbx will provide full and frank disclosure, ie be honest about his earnings and assets.
Thirdly, your have collaborative law, which is what it sounds like your stbx has proposed, NOT mediation. This is where each of you appoint your own solisitor who has trained in collaborative law. You sit together and negotiate face to face, and because you have legal advise there with you, what happens in collaborative law is legally binding. (or holds up in court, or something, not quite sure of the details here). However, collaborative law IS as expensive as going to court. The benefits over court of collaborative law, is that you and stbx remain in control, whereas if you go to court, ultimately the judge decides who gets what and you both loose all control. I think, the biggest problem for you, is that with collaborative law, if one pattern refuses to co-operate or compromise, and pulls out, then you both lose your solicitors and have to start over from scratch with new solicitors to represent you. This is because the solicitors need to have a vested interest in helping you come to an agreement, and not waste time and money in arguing and you end up going to court anyway. Now, if your stbx isn''t paying for his solisitors costs, then he doesn''t have a vested interest in making it work, it''s not wasting his money if he pulls out because you won''t agree to what he wants. However, you would have invested all your money into it and wouldn''t be able to afford for it not to work and then have to pay court costs after all, so I think your would be at a severe disadvantage.
Finally, court - you start court proceedings and if it goes all the way to the final hearing it can cost you £10000. However, even if court process has started, at any point you can agree a settlement with stbx and settle for it to be turned into a Consent Order, and many cases don''t end up going all the way through to final hearing. I believe the court process is also the only way of forcing a full financial disclosure as well, although I''m not sure where collaborative law stands of ensuring full financial disclosure.
Hope that information has been of sme help for you, hopefully someone will be along to advise you on your other concerns.
I had a similar problem with my ex but not on anywhere near the scale of yours. Mine was doing some very creative accounting to try to make his income look less than it was. He eventually ''changed direction'' with his business and ended up on benefits. How on earth anyone can do that to the woman they''ve been married to for 31 years is beyond me.
If I had my time over, I would apply for Ancillary Relief immediately in order to not give him time to get away with all the scams. He then would have been forced to complete form E with full financial information and I would have had re-course if anything he had declared turned out to be a lie. It''s easy to say that now, but at the time I wasn''t in a good emotional state and could not have forseen what he was going to do. I was weak and in Absolute panic mode.
Your solicitor is right that you can''t grass him up as it will not be in your best interests. Just think how he must be feeling that you have that knowledge though, and who knows what you might decide in a few years when it''s all done and dusted.
If your STBX has any sense, once the finances are on paper, he will agree to a sensible division as he will not want his affairs to go infront of a judge.
have you discussed potential splits? Do you know what you would be happy to settle with?
I agree with action, you need financial disclosure before you can even start to work things out. Get your form A into court, it doesn''t mean you need to go the whole court route but at least puts you on a better footing to negotiate and will enforce sworn financial disclosure. Your ex won''t like it but it will hopefully send the message that you are not going to be walked over.