Mediation and Dealing with Finances

Our Amy Trevellick continues her series discussing mediation.

Mediation and Dealing with Finances

I don’t trust my ex to be honest about their income / finances – is it worth me attending mediation?

When discussing financial arrangements at mediation, almost all mediators will require an exchange of financial information before any substantive discussions start. This is often done on the same form that is used in court proceedings (a Form E Financial Statement) so the level of information available to you in mediation is the same as it would be in court. This can be a cost effective way of exchanging information as it is often cheaper than using a solicitor to prepare the forms. Even if you do not reach an agreement with your ex at mediation, you can take the financial information to a solicitor to advise you on the next steps.

Mediation relies on the parties being open and honest in their approach, and if one party refuses to provide their financial information, or the mediator suspects that a party is not being honest, they may terminate the session(s).

My ex always dealt with our finances. I’m worried that I won’t understand the details, or they’ll trick me into an agreement on their terms. What can I do?

Mediation is a process. There is no rush to get to an agreement in one session, and it is likely to take several sessions to narrow down all the details. It is advisable to take legal advice alongside mediation, so you know whether your ex is trying to pull the wool over your eyes. If you are worried about agreeing to something you will later regret, ask the mediator for time to think it over and run it past your solicitor before making a decision. Do not feel pressured to agree on the spot.

In complex cases where there are lots of assets, capital gains tax or high incomes to consider, you could ask an Independent Financial Advisor (IFA) or an accountant to help explain everything clearly. This could be an accountant or IFA that is familiar with yours and your ex’s finances, or someone completely independent. Some accountants and IFAs are members of Resolution and subscribe to their code of practice which includes, among other things, to act honestly, objectively and with integrity – so you can be sure that they will give you fair advice.

Me and my ex were not married but we have a house together. Can family mediation still help?

In principle, yes. However, the law surrounding unmarried couples is very different to matrimonial law – so you need to be sure that the mediator is experienced in this area. You should also make sure that if you suggest mediation to your ex, it is clear that you propose family mediation and not civil mediation which is a very different process (or if your ex suggests it, you should ask them to clarify whether they mean family or civil mediation). Whilst civil mediation has its place, this is a much more formal process where solicitors or barristers represent you during the mediation and negotiate a settlement on your behalf. The costs of civil mediation are usually much more expensive, as the solicitor or barrister will charge for their time on an hourly basis.

Please contact us, we are here to help.