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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Using solicitors or mediators to work out your financial order application

If you can’t agree about splitting property and possessions when you end your marriage or civil partnership, the court can help decide who gets what. Find out how solicitors and mediators can help make the process as easy as possible.

How mediators can help if you disagree on splitting things

The mediator won’t take sides and they will try to help you work out an agreement

A mediator can act as an independent third party and help you get closer to an agreement.

You and your husband, wife or civil partner have a series of meetings with the mediator. You’ll need to make sure you tell them everything that’s relevant. They will be able to help you more if they understand all the issues that you’re concerned about.

The mediator won’t take sides and they will try to help you work out an agreement. You discuss all your possible options with them and how you can sort things out fairly.

A mediator can’t give you legal advice, but they know how the law works. If you can get an agreement through the mediator, they can write it up for you.

When you’ve got a written agreement from the mediator, you can take it to a solicitor. The solicitor can help you to get the court to approve it. This legal document is called a ‘consent order’. See the section ‘Settlements during the process’ below for more information.

Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings

Before you make an ancillary relief application, you should check if mediation can help you reach an agreement. You can do this by having a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. The judge may decide to send you to one of these meetings before dealing with your case if you haven’t already had one.

You can find out more by following the link ‘Mediation to solve problems when you split up’ below.

How solicitors can help with the process

Mediation can be a faster and cheaper way to get to an agreement in many cases

If you’ve used a mediator to get an agreement, you can ask a solicitor to help you make it legally binding through court. This is called a ‘consent order’.

Mediation can be a faster and cheaper way to get to an agreement in many cases. But you will usually need to use a solicitor at some stage during the process. This is because it’s important to get a legal agreement in writing to avoid problems later. For example, if you have one understanding of what the agreement may mean and your former spouse or civil partner has another.

If you haven’t used a mediator

If you haven’t used a mediator, you can each use a different solicitor, and they will try and reach an agreement on your behalf. 

A solicitor will also advise you on the options you have and the applications you can make to the court.

Solicitors will have an understanding of what likely settlement will be made if the judge has to decide how to split things. They will usually give you advice on this basis.

Settlements during the process

There are a number of stages to the process.

Solicitors and judges will be trying to give you an opportunity to finalise an agreement at every stage. 

You can stop the process at any time if you reach an agreement. If both of you can reach an agreement, your solicitors can draft an agreement, called a ‘consent order’. This can then be approved by the judge and the application withdrawn.

It’s always best to continue your negotiations while the process is going on. If you can get a consent order, it means that you will have sorted everything out more quickly. This will save you time, money and stress.

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