When your relationship has crumbled, and you want to cut your ties as soon as possible, it seems easy to head straight to a divorce solicitor. But there is another way.
mediation is a calmer and cheaper way forward. As part of a radical rethink in the way that divorces are handled in this country mediation is being promoted as the first port of cal forl anyone considering separation. The Family Justice Review which was published on the 3rd November 2011 has recommended the creation of a Family Justice Service to include increased provision of mediation at an early stage to prevent cases going to court unnecessarily.
Anyone considering making an application to the court to sort out arrangements for children or finances following separation will be required to attend an initial Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting(MIAM) with a mediator so that an assessment can be made on the most appropriate way forward, for instance by working through a parenting agreement in mediation. If there are children involved the parents will have to attend a Separated Parent Information Programme (SPIP) to discuss ways of minimising conflict and increasing communication between parents, with the expectation they will then attend mediation after. It is only after they have attended a MIAM and SPIP that they can make an application to the court. There is concern not only about the huge amount of public money that is spent on divorce and separation but also about the long-term effect on children and society of separating couples who remain in conflict for years after their separation.
A family mediator will sit down, and work out with a separating couple how to divide any assets up in a practical, realistic and fair way. A mediator will start by setting out certain guidelines, neither party is allowed to interrupt or speak over the other person for example, it is important that people listen to each other. A major goal is to make sure children's views are taken into account and that they are listened to. There is increasing evidence that children's needs will be met by minimising conflict between their parents and assisting parents to communicate in a constructive way together about their children.
Research shows that 12 years after separation, couples who have gone through the mediation process are still reaping the rewards with a much happier outcome and an ability to communicate as parents in the interests of their children.
Susan and David came to mediation recently. They were still living in the same house. Susan wanted to stay in the family home with their two children, a six-year-old boy and an eight-year-old girl. Tension was rising because David was refusing to move outof the house. David said he was terrified he was going to lose the children and that is why he wouldn't move out. He said he did not want to be a ‘Saturday' parent. Putting legal terminology aside, such as custody, access, residence and contact the session was spent focusing on the reality of their day-to-day lives and what arrangements were possible. Using a flip chart, they worked out a schedule of arrangements for the children which suited both parents working patterns and the children's activities.
A sense of equality
Sarah and Tom came to mediation. They wanted to separate and reach a financial settlement and work through the idea of a shared arrangement for their two-year-old daughter.
The couple spent the sessions looking into the practical side of how 50-50 shared care pattern would work in reality. They talked about nurseries, bedtimes, dropping off plans, birthdays, holidays extended families and telephone calls.
Splitting the sessions in half, Sarah and Tom were able to work through financial issues too and reach an agreement to move them both forward, enabling them both to buy a new property.
If you think family mediation might help you or anyone you
know contact Wikivorce to help find you a mediator.
We successfully used a mediator for a specific problem some three or four years after we separated.
Good contact for children relies on parents working together or at least not against each other. Going to court makes that difficult and tends to damage long term family relationships so it's usually worth a shot when there are children. Even when there are no children mediation is less confrontational so emotions don't as easily overheat running up legal bills.
There are of course some cases where mediation is inappropriate, or those where one or both parties are intransigent and not prepared to compromise. Even if there is no final agreement mediation with both spouses present saves on legal costs because solicitors letters are kept to a minimum and should (if they are listening!) give each party a better idea of what can be agreed, what might be agreed and what issues still need to be resolved.
I'm beginning to wonder if mediation is right for me as my husband has delayed it in order to 'cook his books'. Mediator told him that this is when mediation breaks down (when one party is lying and the trust goes). I can't help but think that if I'd started the financial orders immediately (over a year ago) then he wouldn't have had time to run his business down and do all his 'creative accounting'. Mediator said a judge would have thrown his accounts out and he'd probably be facing investigation by HMRC. He is also not abiding by the agreement to not negotiate between sessions. I never dreamed that this would be such a hard battle and I feel like I'm losing the will to fight. I've always been totally fair and honest and only want him to stick to the key principles. Now that he realises he's not entitled to 50/50 he's playing all these dirty tricks to make it look as if he doesn't earn any money. It's all so foolish because HMRC will certainly notice the dramatic change in pattern.
I'm going to try and stick with Mediation until at least the mediator has completed the complete financial report, but then might have to cut my losses and go to court. Wish this was all over - feel so depressed today.
I hope this is now all sorted for you Action??
I have a feeling my case will be very similar??
We''ll see..just don''t want the children to suffer...just want a roof over their heads and what is rightfully mine...x Money isn''t the most important factor in my divorce!!
We did reach an agreement eventually but I did feel that the Mediator was dragging it out a bit and I ended up having to be quite assertive. It was a compromise as far as I am concerned. My ex husband had done such a good job at running his business down that he was claiming benefits so I didn''t fancy my chances in Court. Mediation did cost us thousands but I do think it helped in making him aware of the rules. I do regret not starting it earlier but my counsellor has said that he thought that I would not have been emotionally strong enough to cope with it a year ago.
A Consent Order has now been approved by Court, and guess what, ex husband is now back doing is well paid work overseas. My solicitor was furious and didn''t want me to sign the Order but I had just had enough and want him out of my life. Just need to sell the house and I can be rid of him.
I''ve been reading your other posts. I hope things calm down a bit for you and that Mediation works. He certainly sounds like he needs to wake up and smell the coffee! Try to treat mediation as a fact finding exercise. It helps when it''s the Mediator requesting the information rather than you asking for it. Let me know how you get on.