Divorce can be one of the most stressful events anyone has to face in their lives, especially if it descends into recriminations and disputes over money and care of the children.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. The government, with the backing of many family lawyers, has been trying to promote a more civilised approach by encouraging couples to try mediation.
Mediation is an informal process in which a trained mediator helps the couple to resolve difficult issues amicably and is usually quicker and cheaper than going through the courts.
The mediator, such as a solicitor, can arrange meetings on neutral premises. Their role is to act as a facilitator to help the couple share information and reach an agreement; it is not to offer advice or favour one side or the other.
The approach is non-confrontational. Both parties can still have solicitors present if they wish. This is often helpful if one partner feels insecure in the presence of the other, or perhaps fears that they lack negotiating skills or an understanding of the matters to be discussed.
Mediation can be particularly helpful when a couple want to put the interests of their children first yet find it difficult to reach agreement. If they can find an amicable solution that is fair to both sides, then there is a chance that they may remain on good terms after the divorce.
This can be enormously helpful as they may need to retain a good working relationship for many years to come for the sake of their children.
The same principle applies to other arrangements that have to be made when couples separate. They may have to sell their home so the proceeds can be divided between them and they may also have to reach agreements about their investments, their property and even their pensions.
It is better if these issues can be resolved in a civilised way that is fair to both sides rather than have a solution imposed upon them by a court.
Mediation sessions may take place over several months so neither side has to be rushed into decisions.
Once the couple reach agreement, the mediator will record it in two summaries. Both husband and wife should then give those summaries to their respective solicitors so they can form the basis of a consent order.
Mediation may not be suitable for everyone but for thousands of couples it has already provided a way to reduce the stress and heartache to a minimum.
For more information about this article or any aspect of our mediation services, please call Jeremy Garson on 020 8907 2000 or click here to email him and he will be delighted to help you (there is no charge for an initial telephone discussion).