After 22 years of marriage, David and Anne’s relationship broke down irreparably. David, a telephone engineer, temporarily moved into his parent’s house. This left Anne, a part-time shop assistant, and their two daughters (aged 12 and 7) in the family home.
Having been separated for two months, David was eager to be released from the mortgage, as he needed the capital to buy another property. He was also extremely scared about losing contact with his daughters, and he wanted to remain a major part of their lives. On the other hand Anne was anxious to stay in the family home with the girls, Sarah and Jennifer. However, having given up full-time work when Sarah was born, she had very little of her own money.
These conflicts put enormous strain on the entire family, and David and Anne found it very difficult to communicate with each other. And while they wanted to maintain an amicable relationship for Sarah and Jennifer, they simply could not resolve their various financial and childcare issues. Instead any conversation would end in argument, making everyone angry and upset.
Realising they could not reach important decisions on their own, they individually attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. This allowed them to explore the possibility of mediation as a method of dispute resolution. Afterwards they were both keen to proceed down this route, as it offered a way to solve their problems with the least amount of disruption possible.
After signing an Agreement to Mediate, David and Anne were ready for their first meeting. With the mediator’s guidance, they discussed what they would like to achieve. Both agreed their primary aim was to prioritise the needs of their daughters. With this focus in mind, David and Anne agreed they wanted separate accommodation in the local area so the children could continue at the same school. If financially viable, the children would remain the family home with Anne. They also agreed the settlement would be fair to each other, and would allow each to move on with their independent lives.
With these goals in place, the mediator moved the discussion on, helping David and Anne consider the options available. By the end of the session, a firm parenting plan had been reached. They arranged when David would see the children, how holidays and special days such as Christmas would be shared. The next step was to deliberate their financial issues. The mediator took them through the various forms, explaining what financial information needed to be obtained before the next meeting. This included details regarding each individual’s income and estimated future expenditure, as well as assets and liabilities.
Once each party has completed this financial disclosure, David and Anne were able to objectively assess their financial situation. During the second meeting they investigated the different possibilities and discovered that in splitting their joint assets and liabilities, Anne would be able to remain in the family home and take on a mortgage in her own name. David would then be able to buy himself a two bedroom flat big enough for the children to stay.
With these financial matters agreed upon, the mediator drafted a Memorandum of Understanding which detailed the resolutions that had been made. In the third and final session David and Anne read through the proposals and, when they had both sought independent advice from their solicitors, had the Memorandum turned into a legally binding document.
Within six months of separating, David and Anne had successfully resolved all the issues relating to their pending divorce. Just three sessions of mediation were required, ensuring the emotional and financial stress associated with separation was kept to a minimum. More importantly, David and Anne were able to preserve a peaceful relationship, helping protect not only their own feelings, but also those of their two children.