No - mediation starts from the proposition that you and your former partner are going to separate and attempts to help you to resolve the financial consequences which arise as a result. Having said that, sometimes, when emotions are preventing parties from reaching the practical settlement, the ability to explain to each other why some aspect of the agreement is particularly important to you may be the key to making progress.
We have the facilities to enable you and your former partner to wait in separate reception areas prior to mediation. The mediator will see both of you separately to discuss concerns of this sort individually before mediation begins.
No - mediation requires you to provide full disclosure of your assets and sources of income in exactly the same way as Court proceedings. Sometimes it may be necessary to have property, business assets or pension entitlements are valued by an expert as well. The mediator will prepare a schedule of assets, income and outgoings at the end of the mediation and any agreement that you reach will be based upon the premise that the schedule is complete and exhaustive. Although the discussions in mediation are privileged and cannot be referred to in subsequent Court proceedings, the financial disclosure of that you provide (or the extent to which you fail to provide it) can be brought to the attention of the Court if the mediation breaks down. This can mean that the Court proceedings can be concluded a lot more swiftly, even if mediation has not resulted in a financial settlement.
No - mediation results in a written agreement between yourself and your former partner which is a legally privileged. It cannot be referred to in court proceedings until you have each had legal advice in relation to the proposals which have been agreed and entered into a legally binding document drawn up by your separate solicitors.
Yes - usually. In the first place, you are sharing the cost of one mediator between you rather than having one lawyer each. Secondly, for the reasons outlined above, the process is much quicker than litigation or correspondence between solicitors. Unless you are completely agreed as to the arrangements and just need advice as to how to implement your agreement and make it enforceable, mediation will nearly always provide a more cost-effective way of ironing out any differences between you before you consult solicitors.
If you have been the victim of domestic violence or domestic abuse, particularly if you are still living in the same household, you may not feel able to express yourself freely in mediation. Some people feel that they are so lacking in understanding of their former partner’s financial arrangements or that their former partner is such a forceful personality, that they cannot imagine themselves negotiating directly with their former partner even in the presence of a mediator. Part of the mediator's role is to ensure that every aspect is gone through in sufficient detail to ensure that both parties completely understand the position and that neither party is allowed to dominate the discussions. However, it is perfectly possible for mediation to take place, either with your solicitors sitting beside you or in a separate room where you can consult them in private at any time during the course of the mediation. If you simply cannot conceive of putting your case for yourself, a roundtable meeting between you and your former partner and your respective solicitors may be a better option. Alternatively, you may wish to consider entering into a collaborative law agreement with your former partner.