Solicitor Paul Linsell, in our leading Family law team, explains the mediation process regarding financial matters.
Family mediators will call on a range of skills and methods to help guide you through the mediation process. While every couple has a different set of circumstances and a different relationship dynamic, there are generally a number of stages that the mediator will seek to guide the process through. There is no specific formulaic approach, but in the context of a mediation regarding financial matters, the mediator is likely to deal with the following:
- Assisting with obtaining disclosure. This will include explaining the various forms that will need to be completed, the information required to move the process forward and how to obtain further documents.
- Exploring the understanding of the disclosure. While it is common for one party to have a firm grasp of the disclosure they are providing, it is equally common that the other party may not fully understand the complexities. The mediator will assist by trying to identify any gaps in the information, establishing facts and values and otherwise ensuring that both of you have as level a playing field as possible in terms of your understanding.
- Presenting a financial overview and understanding the financial needs. Once the disclosure process is complete, the mediator will help both of you to understand your financial position and how that may translate into realistic financial needs going forward.
- Prioritising issues. The mediator will work with both of you to identify what is truly important to each of you and will start working on identifying common ground in terms of mutual aims or areas where there are differences of opinion to be tackled.
- Exploring options. With the issues identified, the next task is to consider what options may be available in trying to resolve those issues. This is likely to involve some reality testing of the possible options you have identified together with others which might be open to you. This will ensure that you can make the best-informed choices and that you have both considered possible consequences.
- Narrowing gaps and formulating proposals. The mediator will work to narrow any gaps between the two of you and to help identify solutions upon which you have a consensus.
Often the mediation process will be a fluid process and there are rarely clearly defined stages as set out above. However, the mediator is there to keep the process on track and ensure that both of you stay focussed on moving through the issues and trying to reach mutually acceptable solutions.
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This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.