Case Study: Using family mediation to resolve disagreements over finances
B&B Mediation Service provided mediation for two parties who had reached an impasse to their divorce financial settlement.
Whilst mediation took place 12 months after the couple had separated, it was apparent that both parties were on very different pages emotionally. The couple’s marriage had broken down irretrievably after the husband had left their marital home to move in with another woman. It was clear that the wife was still finding the situation very difficult and emotions were running high from the start.
Individual Mediation Information Assessment Meetings (MIAM) were conducted to confirm that there were no safeguarding or domestic violence concerns before three joint mediation sessions took place with a sole mediator from B&B Mediation Service.
The first session focused on the parties’ children whom the husband had not seen since leaving the marital home. He felt strongly that his wife had influenced the children’s decision not to see him, but the wife maintained she was honouring the children’s wishes not to see him. The husband had taken legal advice prior to mediation at which point he was prepared to start court proceedings for a child arrangements order. The solicitor who advised the husband understood the merits of mediation and referred him to engage in mediation as an alternate dispute method rather than the court process. The solicitor recognised the children in the case were older and had their own wishes and feelings which would not be properly represented in the court forum.
In the first joint mediation session it was recognised the wife was very concerned about her husband’s new partner meeting their children, which was causing tension and an impasse to moving forward. At this session the husband was able to provide appropriate assurances to alleviate the wife’s concerns and he agreed to move at a pace their children were comfortable with. As a result the wife did consider contact arrangements. When both parties returned for their second session, they had already made further progress and by the third session, they had come to a formal agreement which both parties were satisfied with.
The second and third sessions focused on the parties financial circumstances. The starting positions of the wife and husband were poles apart. The wife felt “wronged” and thought that her husband did not deserve any financial settlement from their divorce. She wanted to keep the house, her inheritance and wanted an equal share of pension funds. The husband was not averse to his wife keeping the family house but wanted to keep his pensions if this was the case. He also did not want his wife’s inheritance but felt that this windfall should not be ignored. On the other hand, his wife felt that her inheritance should not come into discussions at all.
B&B Mediation Services helped the couple to draw up a schedule of assets, pensions, debts and income. The parties had previously engaged in the process of financial disclosure through their solicitors, and this avoided the need to repeat the exercise in mediation. The couple agreed to joint mediation sessions taking place in the same room, nonetheless it was necessary for the mediator to take a firm steer and keep the discussion on track.
Butcher and Barlow’s mediator used a flip chart to highlight a pre-agreed agenda for the meeting and every time one of the parties deviated, or became too emotionally charged, helped the couple to get things back on track.
The wife did request several breaks throughout the process due to becoming overwhelmed emotionally and her husband was very tolerant of this. As a result of mediation, both parties agreed that the wife would keep the house subject to the husband being released from the mortgage. On this basis, both parties would have a clean financial break and the husband would retain his pensions. Initially, the wife wanted spousal support maintenance but agreed to a clean break when the husband made it clear he was not looking for any of her inheritance money.
Following the final session, both parties indicated that they had benefitted from the process and B&B Mediation Services then drew up a memorandum of understanding to confirm the agreements that had been made throughout the process.
If you are in need of mediation or would like to discuss B&B Mediation Services in more detail, please visit our Family Law page.