Family Mediation: A London divorce solicitor’s top tips to make family mediation work for you
As a London divorce solicitor, it is easy to be a bit blasé about family mediation. Separating or divorced couples are referred to mediation to see if a mediator can help them reach an agreement over the division of the family home, their other assets or the child custody arrangements. Some divorce solicitors may take the view that if family mediation does not work, then it is no bad thing to make a family court application. I take a very different view.
Whether it is mediation, a round table meeting, or another option to reach an agreement, I think it is worth giving it your “best shot” to avoid expensive family court proceedings.
Not all top London divorce solicitors realise just how intimidating a first family mediation session can be. I did not until a client told me just how intimidated he was. After all, he was used to boardroom negotiations and not mediating with his estranged wife who he had always found it difficult to say no to.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
If you are thinking of using family mediation, the best way forward is to take independent legal advice from a specialist London divorce solicitor. Our divorce and family law team can guide you through the mediation process and help you reach an agreement through mediation.
For a confidential discussion on how legal support in family mediation can help you please call me on 0203 959 9123.
How do you get the best out of family mediation?
As a London divorce solicitor, I know how important the question “how do you get the best out of family mediation?” is.
London divorce solicitors know all about the alternatives to mediation including court proceedings over children or money or both. It is from my knowledge of the shortfalls of the family court system that I understand the importance of getting the referral to mediation right.
In my experience, even the best London divorce solicitors do not always think about the practical considerations involved in attending family mediation or client worries about family mediation sessions.
Here are some tips on how to get the best out of family mediation sessions.
Do you have time for the mediation session?
Mediation sessions tend to last for about an hour to an hour and a half. Sometimes they can start late or run over. So it as well to avoid booking the mediation meeting on a day or at a time that you have to hurry off to a business meeting across town or get to another appointment.
Look forwards, not backwards
When you are with a partner in a mediation session, it can be very tempting to go back over old ground. For example, focussing on the reasons for the marriage breakdown or what was said to one another at the time of your separation.
Sometimes history and background can be relevant. For example, if one of you inherited some money and used it to pay off the mortgage on the family home. At other times, looking at things like financial decisions made during the course of the marriage or the reasons for the marriage breakdown mean you are less likely to be able to make progress in the mediation sessions.
A mediator will normally say that mediation is about looking at the future rather than analysing the past. Their focus is on helping you move forward by reaching an agreement that will work for you and your children.
The best London divorce solicitors say that if too much time is taken up in looking at apportioning blame for the relationship breakdown, it may mean you are less likely to be able to focus on reaching an agreement.
Consider the options
It is common for a husband or wife to think that their solution to the division of family assets or childcare arrangements is the only solution.
Top London divorce solicitors say that is very rare for there to be only one family finance or childcare solution. There are normally many options, such as one spouse keeping the family home, the sale of the family home, or in relation to children; alternate weekend contact or shared care, etc.
In my experience as a London divorce solicitor, mediation works best if a husband or wife go into it without a set view about what they want to achieve in mediation. Knowing what you want can be helpful and is something I always encourage clients to consider but be willing to look at options.
For example, you may want to stay in the family home and your spouse may say that it is not affordable. You could reach an agreement in mediation that the family home is sold but not until the youngest child goes off to university. Alternatively, you could agree that you should stay in the family home but as you are keeping the family home your spouse will keep all or the majority of the pension. Any of these options might work for you, if you take legal, financial and pension advice.
Mediation support by London divorce solicitors
OTS Solicitors offer mediation support providing specialist divorce, children and financial settlement legal advice through the mediation process. Either we work closely with your existing mediator or we can refer you to a suitable mediator.
Mediation support by a London divorce solicitor involves:
• Giving legal information and advice about divorce proceedings; and
• Providing advice about the extent of your financial claims and the financial settlement options, for example, if you have a potential claim against a pension or the relevance of an inherited asset; and
• Advising on the types of financial court orders that a court might make if you or your spouse were to ask the family court to determine how your assets should be divided; and
• If agreement is reached in mediation, preparing a draft financial court order for the family judge to approve and make into a financial court order.
The best London divorce solicitors think it is important that husband and wife get legal support during mediation. That is because information about your legal rights and options often makes you feel more empowered to make decisions in mediation with the support of your solicitor.
Family mediation is often thought of the quick and easy option to reach a financial settlement. In the opinion of top London divorce solicitors, it is not an easy option and not necessarily quick. It takes hard work from a husband, wife, the mediator and divorce solicitors to make it work.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
Our divorce and family finance team can guide you through the mediation process and help you reach a mediation agreement.
For advice and legal support in mediation or advice on your financial settlement options please call me on 0203 959 9123 for a confidential discussion about how OTS Solicitors can help you.