Separation and Divorce
If one or both of you have decided to separate you will usually have some major decisions ahead of you. Essentially these can be divided into three broad areas. Some people will find some parts of their separation straight forward while others may be counting the cost of their conflict for many years.
• Legal relationship between the two of you: Are you married or in a civil partnership? If so have you discussed divorce or does this feel too soon? Do you know your options regarding this? If you are not married but have been living together, the legal aspect is different for you.
• Do you own property together and /or have your own property? What assets are there that you need to make decisions about? How can you address both your needs going forward?
• Children. How will life be different for your children once you are living apart? What are their hopes and fears? How can you address these? How will they share their time with each of you so that you can develop the relationship you would like with them?
We can help you reach agreement on any matters that affect your children. This might include who they live with, how they spend time with each of you, holidays, birthdays, Christmas, seeing wider family etc. We can also help you to reach agreement on the seemingly small things that can make a big difference such as routines, bedtimes, homework, discipline etc.
Our aim is to help the two of you work together as parents so that your children get the best from each of you and do not feel caught in the middle.
As part of the mediation process we can help you to find ways to improve how you work together as parents and discuss how you each want to bring your children up.
Child Inclusive Mediation
As mediators, we help you make decisions together about your children. Sometimes as part of the mediation process we can consult the child involved to enable him/her to have a direct say in the things that affect them. This can be particularly helpful where you and your ex have different views about your children’s wishes. If you think that consultation with your child might be of benefit to him/her, you and your ex can discuss with the mediator how this might best be undertaken.
Property and Finance
When you separate a major concern is often how you are going to manage financially.
What will happen to any property? Where will you live? How will you each manage? What about your pensions? Before you can decide how to share what you have you will need to clarify with each other all your assets and liabilities . You will be required to make full and frank disclosure and you will be asked to complete forms and bring evidence giving details of your finances. Using this information the mediator will assist you to look at all the available options to see how workable they would be for each of you and for any children. By working together to address your concerns the mediator will assist you to come to a solution that you both feel is workable.
Once you have reached a joint decision the mediator will write this up, usually in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding. This lays out the proposals you wish to make. If appropriate you can then ask your solicitor to record these in a document that can be put to the Court in order to make your decisions legally binding.
In brief mediation offers the opportunity to
Look at your aims and objectives for the immediate and long term future
Address any interim financial arrangements
Work together to gather your financial information so that the process is transparent
Work at a pace to suit both of you
Make sure you have all the information you need so you can make informed decisions
Explore options with you and test how workable they are for each of you
Write up your agreed proposals in a formal document
Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM)
This first meeting enables you to talk to the mediator and decide whether mediation is suitable for you. The meeting takes about 50 to 60 minutes and is for you alone. However you may if you wish, bring a friend along for support to this meeting. The mediator will explain the mediation process and give you the opportunity to discuss your particular situation.
After your MIAM, we generally contact your ex-partner to give them the opportunity to have an individual MIAM with us.
Even if you decide that mediation is not for you, you need to have attended a MIAIM before you can put in an application to the courts on family matters. In fact the court may direct you to meet with a mediator; however, mediating with your ex-partner or other family member is a voluntary process.