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Family Mediation Helped Couple Getting Divorced to Avoid Court Proceedings

29 July 2013

A couple that were getting divorced had reached deadlock over negotiating a financial settlement. Their Divorce Solicitors were about to issue Court proceedings, but wanted to give them one last attempt to reach an agreement; so they referred them to Family Mediation specialists at Slater and Gordon Lawyers.

Before the mediation session, we were furnished with a summary of both parties’ financial disclosure and their “final” proposals for settlement. We deliberately did not look at the proposals for settlement as we didn’t want these to “frame” the negotiations, instead it was imperative the parties and the mediator to look at the case with a fresh approach. It was important to both parties that we only had one mediation session – in their minds they did not want to spend money trying to settle something that they thought was not capable of being settled.

We therefore started the mediation session going through the main assets in the marital pot. We discussed whether one party wanted to keep the former matrimonial home or whether it would be sold. One party was keen to remain in the property, but could not afford to buy out the ex spouse to the full extent of what they felt was their entitlement. There also were issues of pre marital contributions, pensions and borrowing capacity.

Had the matter gone to court, both parties were made aware that the judge would have invariably made an immediate order for sale, something that neither party wanted because they both knew that the spouse remaining in the FMH would have been a “reluctant seller” and the property would have invariably stayed on the market for a significant amount of time, thereby depriving the other spouse of their capital and rendering them unable to move on and get their own property. The only way they could avoid this order being made was to reach an alternative agreement between themselves.

We explored various avenues and outcomes and eventually the parties reached an agreement whereby the party who wanted to stay in the FMH did so, the party being bought out was to receive some capital now and the balance at some point in the near future to make up the shortfall. They would also be receiving a share of the pension to balance the books.

They therefore both got the outcome they wanted – something that rarely happens if it goes to court for a judge to decide. This case helps to showcase the benefits of mediation.

Read more about Family Solicitor Sarah Thompson