Mediation Modern Divorce

Michelle helped husband and wife clients to amicably resolve their separation and all issues relating to their child and financial matters, when they approached Miles & Partners for Family Mediation.

Together since university and married for 17 years, PC and CC had a five year old child who was their primary concern. Living together in the family home, albeit in separate rooms, they were emotionally “stuck”, with a lot of regret and sadness about their relationship.

Michelle identified that the case would be suitable for ‘co mediation’ and instructed family mediator Evelyn Nathanson an experienced psychotherapist, counsellor and cognitive behavioural therapist to work with her as the non-lawyer on the case.

At separate Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings, we quickly identified that each was finding the living arrangements very difficult and there was heightened anxiety and disagreements which both felt guilty about.

PC was anxious about money and the reality of what they could afford. He felt their budgets were unrealistic. CC felt disempowered as he had always controlled the financial affairs – she wanted to restore equality in their new working relationship. Their daughter was unaware of the pending separation and they wished to have guidance on how to deal with this.

Each signed the Mediation agreement and at our first joint session we used a flip chart to identify what they each wished to achieve. We discussed their relationship and the couple felt sufficiently supported to admit to each other for the first time their need to physically separate. They agreed that the husband would look to rent a flat close to the family home.

We agreed to schedule sessions to separate financial matters from parenting plans for their daughter, and asked each complete a financial statement before the next financial session.

 

Financial Matters


We began each financial session by setting out what each party wanted to achieve in that session: fix monthly payments to the wife; discuss ownership of two properties now and in the future; how to treat the pensions; whether the wife the could stay in the home; prepare a schedule of assets and analyse affordability of budgets.

Using the flip chart, we prepared and displayed a schedule of assets and respective budgets. This useful tool allowed us to discuss affordability and ask appropriate and at times highly sensitive questions. It became apparent that a shortfall each month which could only be met from the husband’s bonus which was not guaranteed and cuts to their respective budgets would be needed.

Ownership of the family home and a second property in Wales, in which the CC’s parents lived and paid the mortgage, remained a point of contention. When PC voiced his concerns about this, CC became very upset.

Following a brief breakout session, in separate rooms with shuttle mediation, the couple felt able to continue with the joint session. They were both surprised at how emotional they felt about this issue and agreed they would think about it and we would brainstorm ideas at the next session.

When PC was offered a job in Europe and relocated, they agreed a fixed monthly payment to CC who, for the first time, felt there was some equality and wanted the responsibility. This eased some anxiety for PC who realised that he had become bitter about doing it all.

PC wanted some pension and capital advice and Michelle referred him to a financial advisor, who was also a mediator, with links to a Swiss IFA. PC was able to transfer his pensions, allowing CC to retain both properties, a solution they were both content with.

Parenting Plans

The welfare of their daughter S remained of utmost importance to the couple. They agreed to work towards a settlement that would provide her with as much stability as possible, a comfortable home and allow her emotional connection to her father and his extended family to flourish.

With PC living overseas, the couple agreed to him returning Friday evening to Saturday evening which would allow CC to work on Saturday. They agreed that S would spend two half terms with PC in Switzerland and that she would initially be happier traveling with her aunt, PC’s sister, and cousins who she knows well and spends time with regularly.

The couple decided not to formally tell S about the separation but simply tell her together that PC was living in Switzerland. We advised them that it would be helpful to inform their family and friends of their decision, to ensure S did not hear about their separation from anyone else. We also suggested that they inform S’ school about their change in circumstances.

 

As mediators, we must remain impartial and neutral throughout the process and cannot offer legal advice. We recommended that each party sought independent legal advice when it was required, in parallel to the mediation process.

The six mediation sessions attended by PC and CC enabled them to agree arrangements for their daughter and finances. They also agreed to return to mediation should they need further support and to discuss what they will say to S when they are ready to tell her about the separation.