By Austin Chessell

A married couple came to mediation as they had spent tens of thousands of pounds of legal fees and Court hearings costs and wanted to avoid the further legal costs of a final hearing.

They own multiple properties which had already been valued. They had obtained recent mortgage statements and taken tax advice.

At an early Financial Dispute Resolution hearing the Judge had given an indication that the wife should have a slightly higher split of the assets as she did not work and was continuing to raise the children. Both parties had instructed leading firms of solicitors who were preparing to engage costly senior barristers for a potentially lengthy final hearing. It was made clear to them that if the case went as far as a lengthy final hearing it would cost them each tens of thousands of pounds.

At first the wife found it hard at first to be in the same room as her spouse but preferred this to being in a separate room with the mediator shuttling between herself and her husband.

Facilitated by Austin, the parties worked through the financial disclosure of both clients and agreed for a 60/40 split of the assets in favour of the wife.

Austin documented the financial proposals in a Memorandum of Understanding and Open Financial Summary. The clients provided these documents to their solicitors so that a financial consent order could be prepared. The proposals were approved by the court and there was no need for any further court hearings.

There were only five joint mediation sessions which took place over a month. These cost each party £1,550 which is a fraction of the cost of legal fees that would otherwise have been incurred.

Both clients were able to reach a decision where they both felt that a fair and sensible compromise had been achieved. Additionally, as part of the settlement they made some long-term financial arrangements for their children. It was accepted by both parties that the children were at an age where they should be allowed to express their wishes and feelings. This was helpful to the parties in deciding how best to plan the future.