A row over curtains
Earlier this year, a businessman and his interior designer ex-wife ran up £1million in lawyers’ bills over property and furnishings alone in their divorce case – with a judge needing to step in and rule on who should keep the curtains in the house they had shared.
It might sound crazy, but a divorce can often get acrimonious and messy, and that’s before couples even try to sort out their finances or arrangements for their children.
But getting the Court to rule on proceedings is not the only way for disagreements to be settled.
A different solution
Couples can choose mediation instead - a voluntary and confidential process in which a neutral and impartial third party, the Mediator, supports and guides couples to help them resolve their conflicts and negotiate agreements in relation to their finances, including property, pensions, income, assets and other liabilities, and children arrangements.
Government figures indicate that a mediated case is resolved faster and costs significantly less than cases going to court, thus considerably reducing any stress felt by either party during the process.
Carl & Sandy
Sadly, but not uncommonly, Sandy and Carl had endured a bitter divorce which had resulted in contested Court proceedings in relation to the arrangements for their children and contested court relating to the division of their finances
The process had not only incurred significant cost but it had taken its toll on them both, leaving them physically and emotionally drained.
Carl had stayed in the family home and although Sandy was living in rented accommodation with their children, it was her intention to buy a new home for them to move into. With this in mind, Carl and Sandy were now at the point of needing to divide the contents of the former family home ‘by agreement’, as had been ordered by the judge during their financial proceedings.
They’d been trying for some time to ‘amicably’ discuss the contents and reach an agreement themselves, but as relations were still relatively strained and sour between them, they were struggling and continued to argue over who should have what.
Eventually, Sandy and Carl committed to resolve their issues of division through mediation, as neither of them wanted to end up in court again, incurring more expense and dragging the process out.
In just one mediation session, they were able to agree the list of contents and go through it one by one, until they arrived at a satisfactory and fair arrangement for the vast majority of items and a plan of action for them to negotiate between themselves over the remaining items.
“After going through a really painful and difficult divorce, Sandy and I weren’t in the best place to amicably divide up the contents of the house” said Carl. “We just couldn’t see eye to eye over anything and kept squabbling over the smallest of things. That said, neither of us could face going to court again. Mediation seemed worth a try and in fact, having someone else guide us through the process helped keep us focussed on reaching an agreement. I was pleasantly surprised!”.
Sandy said “After all the arguments, I was sceptical about mediation and wasn’t convinced it would work for us. But it did. We were able to agree on how to fairly divide our possessions with relatively minimal hassle – something that just hadn’t been possible when we’d been trying to sort things by ourselves.’
Mediation at SH&Co.
Mediation isn’t always the right solution for everyone, but for some it works incredibly well, saving couples cost, time and pain.
As a highly experienced member of the SH&Co. Family Law department, and a Resolution-trained All Issues Family Mediation Council-accredited Mediator, Victoria Poole can fully explain the process, the range of options available and your position before you make any decisions.
If you’re considering mediation, would like more information or simply to discuss your options with Victoria, please contact us on 01606 48777 to book a FREE 30-minute appointment or alternatively pop in to one of our 4 FREE weekly drop in-clinics (no appointment required).
This is a real case SH&Co. study, however names have been changed to protect identities.
This article has been written for your general information only and is not a detailed statement of the law. It should not be used as a substitute for specific legal advice. If you require specific legal advice please do not hesitate to contact us on 01606 48777.