can anyone advice me ? I have had an intial appointment with a mediator and have just made an appointment for the first session. What i would like to know is should i ask my solicitors advice on what would be a fair outcome or do i just go in and listen to the mediator and take their word on what is fair? As what I think is fair my ex wont agree to. Does the mediator see it as a judge would see it? as my solicitor said i could ask for a mesher order to be put in place so we don't sell the family home until our daughter has finished her education. He wants his name taken off the mortgage now but i am not in a financial position to do this as well he knows. I feel i will not conduct myself in the correct manner at the mediation and feel i may let myself down by being to anxious and letting my feelings run away with me which wont help me in the long run and may end up just agreeing to anything to get it all over with.
I've had two mediation sessions so far and we are still the stage of gathering financial information so haven't started to negotiate as such. Our Mediator is making a table of assets, pensions etc so that everything is transparent (or it would be if my STBX ever told the truth about anything!) My aim is to consult my solicitor once this document is complete so that I'm not paying for legal advice in pouring thorugh all the financial documents etc. If we can reach an agreement at mediation then I will get the advice before signing a Consent Order. In a nutshell, if you're paying for the mediator to do a financial report then you don't want to be paying a solicitor to do the same thing.
The mediator should be aware of the way the assets are split according to UK law but cannot advise you. He/she will just direct you and ask relevant questions so that you're both looking at all the relevant issues. It's not like a free for all slanging/point scoring match.
mediation is not easy but if you get a good one they will be aware of the inbalance of confidence and will try to make you feel safe and unthreatened. Practice counting to ten and being the better person; focus on plain facts rather than emotive issues. Easier said than done as my tummy is in knots just thinking about it.
Of course you are fully entitled to see a solicitor if you want to do so, but you have to remember that the solicitor is acting only for you and has to act in your best interests - which is often see as grabbing as much of the family pot as possible. This isn't always helpful and, if you see a solicitor, your spouse may feel obliged to do the same and his solicitor will be giving similar advice - and pulling in the opposite direction.
I have seen solicitors letters making the most ridiculous demands, whose purpose was really to establish a bargaining position which, through negotiations, became more reasonable. But the letters often had the effect of winding up the other side and making a bad position worse. I should add that not all solicitors act like this.
There are no exact rules as to how a family's assets should be divided; if you end up in court and leave the decision to the judge, the division will depend on that judge in that court on that day.
If I were in your position, I would be inclined to give mediation a chance first. Mediation can work really well. If you are really unhappy about the way things are going, you should say so and that might change things, and you always have the option of going to a solicitor at any stage.
Finally, if you really are seriously unhappy about what you are being asked to agree (you are never going to be thrilled about it, unless you have got millions) and feel that it is not fair or balanced, don't sign the agreement - nothing is agreed until it's agreed.
Good luck. I hope the mediation works better than I have a feeling you are expecting.
Getting back to the original question - yes it is a good idea to speak to a solicitor to discuss what a fair settlement is otherwise you will have no idea if an offer made at mediation is good or not.
The mediator is not meant to provide advice, only provide the parties with the support required to document a settlement.
Some mediators overstep the mark. A colleague of mine had a client who went to mediation to sort out contact matters. The cient, the mother in contact proceedings, was strong-armed into a contact agreement that she was not happy with. Prior to the agreement the mediator said to her "this is a good deal, if you don't agree the mother will definately obtain a residence order". This comment was inappropriate and was contrary to the advice that she received (the father had been absent for some time, had previously had contact but had not bothered to excercise it, and demanded 50:50 contact following a CSA assessment. The child barely knew the father hence the mother's concern as the child had been let down by the father previously).
So, if you know roughly what a fair deal is, you can go to mediation with a fair expectation. This benefits both parties.