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Financial and property mediation

 

What mediation can achieve

Financial and property is one of the most contentious issues in terms of divorce and separation. You will be concerned not only with your own material interests, but also those of your partner and children. Mediation is often a way of resolving these disputes without costly legal interventions that can actually eat into the value of your property and savings.

The biggest asset in any negotiation will be what happens to the family home. This is potentially the greatest financial asset which a couple will own, individually or jointly, but it is also of symbolic value, particularly to children. Following this, mediation also considers the division and distribution of other assets and liabilities. There may be a variety of financial assets which are dealt with in a mediation procedure and these can include savings as well as pensions and other investments.

The mediation process for property and finance

Unlike going to court, there is an open discussion of financial information in mediation. Mediation will involve you making a list of income and expenditure. This should include all current (and expected) items of income and expenditure over a plausible time period. You will also have to make an inventory of any assets and liabilities that you may have. It is very important to include any debts that you may have, and who these are owed to. In creating this financial statement you will want to consider any tax, or other liabilities, that you may have through activities such as self employment. You also must specify any windfall gains which you have accrued through areas such as share dividends, or other exceptional earnings. It is worthwhile spending some time thinking about your income and expenditure as this can save time later in the mediation process if mistakes are discovered.
Making this inventory of income and expenditure and assets and liabilities will help you to jointly decide on two significant issues. Firstly, in terms of the family home, who should live there and should it be sold. If it is sold, you will need to think about how the profits from the sale are to be divided. Secondly, in terms of maintenance and child supports, what should be the contribution of each party? This may also involve contributing towards the living costs of adults.

Other issues in financial mediation

Although the family home and maintenance are two standard issues in mediation there are other issues that might arise. There may be pensions and endowments, or other assets, that need to be divided. This can be a complex issue as the future earnings from these assets (particularly if they are financial assets, such as shares) can not be predicted in advance. In the situation of dividing up assets there are a number of possible solutions. One is to simply divide the assets equally between both parties. However, this may not be realistic if the assets are difficult to divide (for example, if there is an antique of some value). It is often then best to consider what would be in the best interests of the children. For example, it may be possible to grant the children present, or future, entitlement to assets.