Family mediation is a way of resolving disputes after separation or during divorce by helping couples to look for their own solutions rather than fight about them in the Courts:-
- Both parties explain their concerns and needs to each other in the presence of a qualified Family Mediator
- The Mediator is impartial, so they are not on anyone’s side
- The Mediator helps both parties, unlike a solicitor appointed to act just for you
- Although the Mediator will suggest ways of solving your problems or help you both to reach an agreement, they will never tell you what to do
- A Mediator is an experienced Family Specialist who can help you reach an agreement, but is impartial so they cannot give anyone advice about what to do, although can provide some legal information to help you
When to use a Mediator?
- Mediation depends on both parties wanting to find solutions not to score points or win arguments, it is entirely voluntary
- For those couples it is a less acrimonious, quicker and much cheaper option than pursuing their differences through the Courts
- In many cases couples take their own independent legal advice before and after they see the Mediator
- In most cases a successful Mediation takes more than one session and you are free to see your own solicitor if you want to for legal advice in between sessions
- If agreement is reached you may need to go back to your own solicitor to help finalise agreement in a binding way
Pre-Nuptial and Post-Nuptual Agreements
Pre-nuptial or pre-marital agreements are becoming increasingly common in the United Kingdom for those couples hoping to avoid the financial complications that often arise when a marriage breaks down. They can be perceived unromantic and pessimistic, although in reality they can reduce the time, expense and acrimony commonly experienced when dealing with a divorce settlement.
Across most of Europe and the World, pre-nuptial agreements are binding. This is not as yet the case in the UK. The reason for this is that the Courts in this country have an absolute discretion to make orders on divorce or dissolution and if the court takes the view that a marital agreement is unfair or does not meet someone’s needs, the Court may decide not to uphold the agreement and may make an alternative order.
The Courts are, however, increasingly aware of the importance of upholding your right to enter into a contract to determine what should happen to your property if your relationship breaks down. The fact that an agreement has been made is a significant factor that the court will take into account and follow unless there is a good reason to deviate from it.
Marital agreements are not simple documents and need to be carefully thought through and drafted. They need to be fair otherwise they will not be upheld so both parties will have to provide full and frank financial disclosure before the agreement is drawn. They will also often involve negotiations and it is therefore a pre-requisite for each party to obtain independent legal advice. There should not be any duress, so the agreement ought to be negotiated and signed in plenty of time before the wedding.
It is important to regularly review a pre-nuptial agreement and therefore even after you have married, you may want to consider a post-nuptial agreement. This is particularly going to be of relevance if children are born or assets change in a way that had not been anticipated.