Mediators and lawyers have their own role to play in helping you to reach decisions following on from your separation. Most of the hard work is done by you both during the mediation sessions. The two of you will discuss the issues that need to be resolved, with the help of the mediator. The mediator is there to help you to communicate in a constructive way while your respective lawyers will help you individually by advising you about the proposals. They can then translate the settlement proposals into a legally binding agreement or submit it to the court for the court’s approval.
An out of court settlement is something you often hear about. It is a settlement that is often reached within the mediation process. It can then be endorsed and approved by the court to make it legally binding.
For a financial settlement to be binding it is important that both of you disclose to each other your respective financial positions. This would be the same whether your settlement was reached through mediation, through solicitors or through court. You cannot come to an agreement if you don’t know what the assets and incomes are. This process is called full financial disclosure. You are then able to have discussions and negotiate a settlement Even in court most settlements are reached through discussion and negotiation rather than the Judge making your decisions for you. In mediation, you can go straight to those discussions after the financial disclosure stage, without waiting for the court to give you appointments and paying for costly court fees, and solicitors’ and barristers’ costs.
Just because you and your ex can’t communicate doesn’t mean that you have to go to court. Mediation can help you look at how your relationship can be improved to enable you to resolve your issues, particularly communication. You can become more co-operative and make your own decisions together. The benefit of mediation is that it is the two of you who will be making the decisions about you and your children, rather than having a Judge decide what is best for your future.
Do you think that you will be better able to communicate if you have solicitors writing letters between you? No, I suspect not too. Often what you said and what you meant can get misunderstood or blurred by using a third party. The advantage of mediation is that you are both putting forward your views and the other can listen and respond at the time, not 2 or 3 weeks later. The mediator can help by translating and clarifying if necessary. Then, in a constructive and problem-solving way you talk through the options and work out what is best for your separated family. Then you do it, job done!