Welcome to the Financial Mediation Preparation page
The Q&As on this page primarily relate to our standard financial mediation service. Your mediator will refer you to our complex financial mediation service page, if appropriate.
Before you come to your first financial mediation please:
- Read the answers to the most commonly asked questions, below
- If you have not already done so, please do your best to complete the pre-mediation questionnaire, the financial disclosure booklet and monthly outgoings schedule, send these to your mediator and bring them with you to use in the first mediation session.
- Please refer to our video support series to help you:
We hope that the answers, documents, guides and videos, on this page, provide you with everything you need at this stage but please do not hesitate to contact you mediator, if anything is unclear, as you prepare for your first mediation session.
Do I need legal advice from a solicitor, before we start mediation?
In most cases, this will not be necessary. In fact, it could be a disadvantage to take advice before mediation, since the advice you each receive from your solicitors is quite likely to differ, immediately polarising your approach and mindsets, which is not a good start for mediation.
The other thing to bear in mind is that the quality of legal advice will often depend on the quality of information you are able to provide the solicitor. So, unless you provide your solicitor with all your facts and figures including, pension cash values, property values and business values, for example, the solicitor will only be able to give you very general advice, at best.
Also, much of what is referred to as advice, certainly early in the legal process, is in fact, legal information, much of which is available on our website and other good websites, which the mediator can signpost you to. Also, many of our family mediators are also family solicitors and can provide all the legal information you need.
Finally, our family mediators also have a duty to ensure that your financial discussions and mediated outcomes fall within the parameters of the kind of outcome you might achieve in court and to inform you, if it does not.
More often than not, the best time to seek advice from your solicitor is when your mediator has prepared a financial summary (see full and frank disclosure below) and you have explored a few financial options in mediation which you can then discuss with your solicitor before returning to mediation, to finalise things.
How long does the mediation process take?
We know from experience that most standard financial mediations take in the region of 2 to 4 joint sessions of between 1.5 and 2 hours for each session, spread over a few months.
How many sessions, the length of each session and the time between each session, will depend on factors such as; how complicated your financial circumstances are, how well you and your former partner communicate, how prepared you both are with your facts and figures and so on.
What we can say is that the most successful and quickest mediations are those where people have taken the time to prepare well, read our guides, completed the relevant financial documents and watched the relevant videos.
In the more complicated financial circumstances, often involving Company valuations and a range of investments including various types of pensions, we are able to offer a 1-day mediation service with solicitors present. Please refer to our complex financial mediation service page for more details.
How much will it all cost?
The amount our mediators charge differs around the country, mainly depending on the cost of the venues. It is generally between £80-120 phr per person for time spent in mediation and time spent on mediation summaries (In London our prices are higher).
Therefore, we estimate £1000 per person, on the basis of 3 sessions of 2 hours each, at the rate of £100 phr, 1 hour spent on summaries after each session, with an additional 2 hours spent on the final summary, after the final session.
Please bear in mind that this is only an estimate. Each mediator will provide you with an estimate of their costs in their letter inviting you to the first mediation session, based on their initial discussions with you in the MIAM.
Please note that mediation costs are significantly less than solicitor-lead negotiations for a number of reasons namely; We do not charge for administrative letters, texts, emails and other forms of communication, unless otherwise agreed with you.
Also, the whole process is much faster and efficient, when you are able to work effectively with your former partner, with the mediator’s help.
Do I have to be in the same room as my former partner?
The simple answer is no, you do not have to be in the same room as your former partner. Of course, we completely understand why, in many circumstances, being in the same room may feel uncomfortable.
However, your mediator will explain to you that, in most cases, unless it is completely unworkable, it is more effective and efficient to work with you and your former partner, in the same room, so that you all hear directly what you each of you has to say and ultimately make decisions together.
It may be a matter of the mediator carefully managing the conversation but this is invariably better than being in separate rooms, with the mediator shuttling backwards and forwards between you and your former partner, with you both wondering what the mediator is saying to each of you.
Having said this, the bottom line is that if you feel strongly about this, and your former partner agrees not to be in the same room, and the mediator is willing to work in this way, the mediation can take place with you and your former partner, in separate rooms.
In rare circumstances, the mediator may also decide that, for safety reasons, you and your former partner need to be in separate rooms.
It will help your mediator if you complete and return to them the communication questionnaire to be found as part of our video series – So, you are thinking about mediation?
Is the mediated outcome binding?
Only a Judge has the legal power to make your agreement binding. The question for you is; how can you avoid court and reach a financial agreement fair to you both, in the most efficient and cost effective way.
If you use mediation to do this and reach a successful outcome, among other benefits, this is also likely to be extremely cost effective.
The outcome you reach is then prepared in the form of a financial consent order and sent to the Judge to make into a binding order, once Decree Nisi in the divorce process, has been made.
In most cases, your solicitor will prepare the financial consent order although in some cases, your mediator may be prepared to do this for you.
What if we cannot reach an agreement?
Remember that mediation is voluntary which means that you, your former partner and the mediator, can bring mediation to an end, at any stage.
If mediation breaks down, the mediator will provide you and your former partner with a certificate confirming this. This certificate will need to be inserted into your court application, if you decide to go to court.
Having said all this, if mediation becomes difficult, for whatever reason, before ending it once and for all, we ask that you discuss the reasons for this, with your mediator, and ask them whether they believe mediation is recoverable and if so, what may need to be done to get back on track and improve your chances of being successful in mediation.
If mediation breaks down, a period of reflection before making a final decision, is almost always worthwhile, especially bearing in mind the alternative journey of going to court.
Should we try to agree as much as possible before our first session?
We usually recommend that you and your former partner speak to a mediator as early as possible about how best to prepare for your first mediation session.
You will find a number of video series to support you with your preparation.
The common risk of trying to agree outcomes together, before mediation starts, is that you fall out about something, which reinforces any negative perceptions you might have about how difficult mediation is going to be and dashes any positive expectations you might have been holding on to.
The result could be polarised thinking and standpoints which the mediator will have to work on addressing early in the mediation process. The fewer the psychological and emotional barriers when you come into mediation, the better.
Our preference is for you and your former partner to focus on the tasks set for you by your mediator, before you come to mediation, such as doing your best to complete the financial disclosure booklet and monthly outgoings schedule, so that you come to mediation well prepared, with a positive mindset and approach.
It is also important that you have a good discussion about your pre-mediation questionnaire, with your mediator in your MIAM, before mediation starts. You will find this and the videos that support you to complete this form here.
What is a ‘full and frank’ financial disclosure
This is explained in our video series and guides.
One of the aims of mediation is to produce an agreed financial summary of all the assets, liabilities, future based assets, such as pensions, incomes and outgoings, which is in the form of an ‘open’ summary (not confidential or privileged).
This means that it can be relied on by you and your former partner, your solicitors and the Judge, when he comes to make the final financial order, as being an accurate, honest reflection of your financial circumstances.
For your first mediation session, we simply ask you both to do your best to complete your financial disclosure booklet and monthly outgoings schedule, using our online support resources to help you.
As you work your way through these, if you have any questions, you can email your mediator so that, by the time you arrive at your first mediation session, you will have completed your financial disclosure documents and have a good idea about how the mediator will approach preparing your financial summary, in mediation, with you both.
You and your former partner will then work with the mediator, in mediation, to produce an accurate, up to date summary of your financial circumstances, before moving on to explore your financial options.
In the first mediation session, it is very common for there to be gaps in the information and documents you provide so, as the mediator discusses your financial figures with you, they will produce a list of information and documents for you each to provide after mediation, with the aim of finishing off and creating a financial summary, which can be used as a basis for exploring your financial options during the second and third mediation sessions.
In cases where you also have a solicitor helping you it is often prudent to ask your solicitor whether there is any financial information from your former partner they would like to see, or questions they would like to add to your list.
How will the mediator make sure that the outcome is fair for everyone?
This is a really important question because what everyone wants from mediation is an outcome that is fair to each person, reached in the most cost effective and efficient way, and avoid court.
The whole process starts with the mediator establishing and helping each person clarify for themselves, and each other, what the mediated outcome needs to achieve for them and then to build the mediated outcome around these priorities.
You can watch our video series here.
The mediator might well tell you that you are unlikely to achieve everything you want but, as long as you and your former partner achieve the things of most importance to each of you, the outcome is likely to feel ‘fair enough’ to both of you and you will reach a successful mediated outcome.
One of the mediators’ jobs is to ensure that the outcome you reach falls within the parameters of a court-based outcome. In other words, mediation takes place within the ‘shadow of the law’ although the focus is not on the law but on helping you to craft and design an outcome best suited to you and the separated family’s needs.
Will we also need other financial experts to help us?
We see the process of helping you and your former partner find mutually fair financial solutions, as a ‘mediation team’ process, sometimes involving other family experts such as a financial adviser, a pension actuary or an accountant, depending on the type of final support you both need to be able to make decisions together, about your financial circumstances.
If any of these other experts are required, your mediator will help you work with them in, or outside, the mediation process, in the most efficient and cost- effective way, ensuring that the process does not become polarised and divisive.
This may, for example, involve helping you and your former partner, in mediation, to prepare a letter of instruction to the pension actuary or accountant to value an asset.
It may also involve the mediator helping you and your former partner to prepare the questions you need to ask the financial adviser or accountant, in between mediation sessions.
Whatever it involves, the mediator will help you both work together, as much as possible, in a mutually beneficial way, with experts who often work in a neutral capacity, to provide you both with the information you need in mediation, to be able to make financial decisions and reach agreements together.