How do I prepare for this?
For many finances can be the tricky part...
Common concerns are:
Where do I start?
How do I know what is fair?
Step one is to book an initial appointment or MIAM. This is a relatively short meeting where the mediator will take some information from you, explain more about the principles and process of mediation and ask you for your perspective about what needs resolving.
The vast majority of clients come to this first meeting alone. In fact, in October 2022 The Family Mediation Standards Board recommended that clients had individual initial appointments as best practice so that is what we prefer to do here. It's also an opportunity to ask questions and check that mediation is the right process for you. All appointments costs can be found on this website in the prices section. A MIAM with an accredited mediator also gives you a legal right to make an application to court within 4 months but hopefully you will not need to do that.
What is fair?
There is no one answer to this. The start point in law is 50/50 but it's important to appreciate that whilst that is the start point, for various reasons that is not "fair" in every case. The mediation process helps the two of you to understand what each needs which can help you to gradually come to an understanding of what is fair. The mediators can give you legal information to help you both keep costs down but it may be that one or both of you might benefit from some bitesize independent legal advice during the process. That doesn't mean that you need to have a solicitor before you even start the process.
The process steps you through different options that you consider, without obligation before making final decisions about what you both consider to be acceptable. The mediators show both of you the affordability of any ideas being considered for both of you.
Your Green Light mediators will send you anything you need to complete ahead of sessions by email.
After your first mediation session and before your second we suggest that you each complete part of a Form E. This is the form for disclosure, you each sign it and the idea is that you then each fully understand what the total financial situation is and can therefore make informed decisions and ask questions about anything that you don't understand.
The mediator is likely to ask you to provide some very specific cost information ahead to enable them to prepare for your session.
How do we make it legally binding?
Your mediator can explain this to you at the initial appointment. The mediators can draw up documents to be translated into a financial order if this is relevant to your situation.
Should we make finances legal binding?
The short answer to this is yes, in virtually every case. We have all seen or heard of those stories where an ex-spouse comes back years later creating huge challenges. If you don't already have a solicitor and decide you want to contact one we can give you names of solicitors clients speak highly of that we are in touch with.
Why not just go straight to solicitors?
In most cases clients can work out finances at mediation resulting in a more amicable separation at a lower cost. If you start with a solicitor you may have a higher chance of ending up in court. Whilst not every case is suitable for mediation, it seems a pragmatic choice to try to keep costs and stress down at such a challenging time for all involved.