Mediation works by you taking control of your life. It does so by creating a safe space for you and your ex to focus on the decisions relating to the big ticket items in your life.
Your Children, Your House, Your Money...
Mediators act as a go-between, they stand in the no-man’s land of the trenches and focus in on what you are really arguing about.
Emotional drivers are what dictate our decisions in life. The closer a decision gets to home, the more emotive it will be. It’s a simple task in your life to make a decision which has zero impact on you. So for example, a football manager will replace you on the field of play if it suits the agenda of achieving a win for the team and a higher ranking in the league. The feelings of the substituted player are irrelevant to the manager’s decision. The players know the score at the outset, their ego may be injured by the decision but if the team wins, so be it.
Now transpose that into a marriage.
Your spouse decides to substitute you for a younger model. It suits their agenda to do so and your feelings about being substituted are irrelevant at that point. The difference here though is that unlike the football player, you signed up for a life of fidelity. Suddenly the trust and tolerance on which the partnership was based has been destroyed. This isn’t a transaction any longer. Unlike a footballer, its not just your ego that has been injured but everything you have ever worked towards and your families welfare is now under threat.
That’s what emotional investment looks like. The greater the investment, the harder the fall.
Litigation of your case, harsh words, lengthy lawyers letter are only going to get you to a position where you can’t believe that your partner raised THAT with their solicitor. And now IT’S IN BLACK AND WHITE!! How could they? It’s quite easy, really. It’s the lawyer writing the letter, not your ex.
Their lawyer has zero emotional investment in your feelings. Each letter is worth a billable hour to a lawyer. There is no exchange rate on emotions. Your lawyer will respond in equally offensive terms (maybe not to you) and then you also will be down another hour’s rate.
So here’s the thing with mediation.
You get to say what you want to say, explain the nuance of things and why one thing more than another matters most to you. Whilst saving money on lawyers.
So, a dad may prefer to take their child to football training every Wednesday after school so will push hard for this whilst Mum can only get away from work early on a Wednesday and it is her only opportunity to see the children after school. Every other day since dad left the children go into after school clubs. A simple point like that could cost thousands in letters between lawyers. In mediation it would take less than 10 minutes to resolve. These things sound trivial, but trust me they aren’t.
You will often be told that domestic violence is a reason not to use a mediator. This is a fiction. We are trained to deal with these situations by a process called “shuttle” mediation. You will never be in the same room as your ex if you don’t want to be. In the days of Zoom, of course we can do everything remotely anyway. Nothing is too much trouble to organise to make you feel safe and comfortable in mediation.
Is a mediated agreement always final?
In Family law, no. You are perfectly entitled to take the agreement back to a lawyer for further advice. The only personal pitch I will make here is that I was a Matrimonial Barrister for many years and so, I know the law. I know how solicitors will view an agreement and would not put forward an agreement that wouldn’t pass muster with your representatives.
It is entirely up to you how to proceed with a mediated agreement.
Where the children are concerned, many agreements get up and running very quickly. Nothing further is required because you, the parents have taken the initiative to decide how your family will operate in the future. Many parents discover that the children dictate the arrangements and having started from a position of a mediated agreement, a spirit of compromise is always present.
Finances are different. Some aspects of a financial agreement require a court order. Pensions. Also, many people prefer the surety of a court order following a mediated agreement. This is easily achieved by asking a solicitor to draft one up for you on a set fee. You must negotiate this fee to get the best value for money. The solicitor will submit what is known as a Consent Order, signed by both of you when you submit your divorce paperwork to the court.
The final message is this: Once your case is in court you completely lose control of the outcome. That means a complete stranger to you and your children will make long-lasting decisions that are enforceable against you. You never lose control when you mediate.