Even in the most challenging circumstances, mediation can resolve disputes when a relationship breaks down. It provides a framework for couples to reach an amicable agreement - and avoid a long, costly court case.
Abigail and Graham were referred to mediation with by their solicitors. Feelings were running high and Graham had recently moved out of the house which was owned jointly. Each felt angry and upset about behaviour of the other. They saw no going back in terms of their marriage. Each had very different views as to how a financial settlement might be concluded fairly. They had 2 children age 15 and 8.
In early sessions there were heated disagreements about the arrangements for the children.
Graham thought the house should be sold straight away and any profit from the sale be divided equally to give him an opportunity to buy somewhere to live. Abigail felt if this happened she would not be able to buy a house. She wanted to stay in the house with the children. It seemed that there was very little in terms of common ground. Abigail’s income was lower than Graham’s. This type of situation bore all the hallmarks of a case which could have been set to be a long and expensive battle, in court or through solicitors on children issues and finance.
Over a course of 5 sessions (1.5 hours each) in mediation with our experienced mediator, Graham and Abigail were assisted to identify their main objectives and interests. The mediator guided them through a full process of financial disclosure, which brought clarity on their liquid assets, property, pensions and incomes and borrowing capacities. The mediator helped by letting them now about financial and legal advisers who could give expert advice tailored to their situation and also a counsellor when appropriate, which brought Graham and Abigail to a position of feeling more informed and in control.
In the sessions it became clear that despite their strongly held differences, Abigail and Graham both had a mutual salient interest in their children’s stability and welfare and this common thread then carried them through to co-operate. The mediator assisted them to roadtest options and with a better understanding of their options and alternatives. With the information and an array of options, proposals then emerged which both were happy with.
- Financial: a proposal was reached which gave Abigail the ability to stay in the house with the children and gave Graham use of liquid savings as a deposit to buy a home. The proposal was for the house to be sold when the children were through their education to ensure they had a home. After negotiation Graham and Abigail agreed on how to divide the equity on the eventual sale, which was an un-equal split in Abigail’s favour. A provision was agreed for child support so the CSA did not need to be involved.
- A pension sharing arrangement was agreed.
- Children’s arrangements: Abigail and Graham were able to agree a routine for their children’s time with each of them.
- The divorce – Abigail and Graham agreed within the mediation on the basis for their divorce which cut out the need for them to engage in solicitors’ correspondence over this.