It’s over, but what happens next?
As most of us can testify, the breakdown of any relationship is a painful experience for the couple and their children, and it’s frequently an emotional and exhausting process.
Couples can struggle to agree on issues relating to the divorce, finances and children, often resulting in both parties being dragged through a lengthy and costly court process which can significantly exacerbate feelings of bitterness or recrimination.
But it‘s not the only way for disputes to be resolved.
Mediation is an alternative option - a voluntary and confidential process that focusses on helping couples to resolve and prevent their disputes in relation to their finances, including property, pensions, income, assets and other liabilities. In addition, they can focus on the arrangements for the children to achieve the best outcome for them, through the support and guidance of an impartial third party, the Mediator.
Widely considered to be a quicker, cheaper and less stressful process, with government figures revealing a mediated case takes 110 days to resolve (compared to 435 days in cases where mediation isn’t used) and in 2012 the average cost per client for mediation was £675 compared to £2,823 for cases going to court. This is an average cost saving of £2,148.
Research also shows that it secures better results, particularly for children, as it is based on discussion and agreement.
Sam & Lucy
Take Sam and Lucy who mediated following the breakdown of their marriage regarding issues to resolve about family finances and child arrangements.
Married for 11 years and with a 6-year-old son Thomas together, Sam 38 and Lucy 40 were your typical couple.
Sam was shocked when, seemingly out of the blue, Lucy asked for a divorce. There were no third parties involved but Lucy was not interested in any attempts to reconcile or work things out.
Lucy and Thomas had moved out and were living in rented accommodation, whilst Sam remained in the family home. Although they were in agreement to divorce and their relationship remained cordial, it was clear that Sam was still struggling to accept and reconcile the split, and Lucy felt that Sam was quite controlling as a result.
They’d been trying to work contact arrangements for Thomas as amicably as possible, also involving Sam’s parents, but were at odds over what they respectively felt was best for Thomas. Sam wanted more time with Thomas, Lucy felt his proposals would be too disruptive and unfortunately, Thomas was getting increasingly upset at handovers and starting to show signs of separation anxiety.
Although sceptical about mediation, both Sam and Lucy recognised they were at an impasse and were committed to working in Thomas’ best interests without the expense of court.
As a result of their three mediation sessions, Lucy and Sam were better able to understand each other’s positions and Thomas’ needs. They were eventually able to make agreements about family finances, including the family home, savings, debts, pensions and other assets in addition to child maintenance. They also arrived at an amicable contact arrangement for Thomas, finding a solution which enabled them to move forwards with increased contact with Sam and avoiding parent to parent handovers, thereby reducing Thomas’ distress.
“Although we both wanted the best for Thomas, Sam and I were at loggerheads trying to agree what ‘the best’ was” said Lucy. “It wasn’t always easy to put our feelings towards each other to one side and focus purely on Thomas, but Victoria helped us hit the reset button and find a middle ground to trial and review. Sam and I are now more relaxed with this agreement in place and Thomas seems much happier. Mediation also helped us sort out all of our financial issues with minimal stress which is fantastic given how expensive it can be to go through the courts.”
Mediation at SH&Co.
Mediation isn’t always the right solution for everyone and it’s important to fully understand the process, the range of options available and your position before making any decisions.
Speaking to a professional is wise. At SH&Co. Victoria Poole can help – she is both a highly experienced member of our Family Law department, and a Resolution-trained All Issues Family Mediation Council-accredited Mediator
If you’re considering mediation, would like more information or simply to discuss your options, 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.