These are questions people often want to ask before the mediation. We have tried to answer them here.
What is disclosure?
This is the process of sharing documents relating to everything you and the other person own (for example your house, bank accounts and pensions), any debts you have (for example credit cards or loans) and your income and outgoings.
Why do I need to do it?
It is important that you both have a full picture of all your financial circumstances before deciding how your finances may be shared. Your solicitor and the court also must be certain you have both had this information before you make a decision and before a judge is able to approve any agreed arrangements.
Why do we need to share disclosure when we both know what there is already?
You must both be clear about: what you each own and what you own together, any debts you each have or have together and the income you each receive before you make decisions about your financial futures apart. There may have been changes since you separated. As one mediator commented ‘you need to know what you are saying ‘no’ to’.
How far back does disclosure need to be?
Usually from the time that you separated or from the time that you decided your marriage/civil partnership was over. The Form E asks for information for the last 12 months.
Why do I have to fill in Form E?
This is the standard form which solicitors and the court have developed to bring together all the financial information. Family Matters Mediation has developed its own version of the form in the Financial Mediation Pack. This is a standard form, not all the questions may be relevant to you. It will help you gather together all your financial information for disclosure.
Why do I need to bring in three copies of everything?
So that everyone has exactly the same documents, we ask you to bring one copy for yourself, one copy to share with the other person in the mediation and one copy for your mediator. As many of our mediators work in outreach offices in other towns, not in Doncaster, they do not have access to photocopiers; it speeds up the process and saves costs for you if disclosure can be shared at a mediation meeting. Family Matters charges a set fee per photocopy.
What is a short marriage?
There is no legal definition of “a short marriage”. Generally, a marriage of less than five years where there are no children may be considered a short marriage, depending on any other relevant circumstances.
Is it relevant that:
- We lived together for a long time but were only married for a short time?
- I live with my new partner?
- I have a child with my new partner?
These are all potentially relevant factors and you should talk about them within your mediation process.
How long will I have to pay maintenance for?
There is a difference between financial support for children and financial support for your former partner. Both can be talked about during your mediation.
I have a company with my Mother and father .Why do I need to value my company?
As with any other asset or liability, it is important to know the value of your business so that it can be considered in mediation when you decide how finances should be shared. That does not necessarily mean that the other person in the mediation will be able to claim half of your business.
We have agreed that my company will not be included in the discussion, do I still need a valuation?
Yes. Within the mediation process you can both agree how best to consider your business and how it should be valued.
I used the proceeds of my house to buy our house together; will that be taken into account?
It depends how the house is legally owned between the two of you and how both of you (and any children) may be rehoused following your separation.
My parents died after the separation and left me money; is it included in the discussions?
This information should be shared to give a full picture of your financial circumstances. Its relevance will be considered at your mediation depending on other assets available.
Why can’t our mediator advise us whether our settlement proposal is “fair”?
As mediators we are impartial and cannot advise either of you. In mediation you both retain control of the decisions made and options reached. We are able to provide information to you both about the factors which the court takes into consideration when making or approving a fair financial arrangements order. Your solicitor will provide specific advice particular to your circumstances.
Why do I need a Court Order?
The arrangements you reach in mediation are not legally binding, although they are evidence of your agreement in the process. A Court Order in your divorce proceedings makes the arrangements legally binding, so a financial claim cannot be reopened in the future. If a pension is to be shared, there must be a court order for that to happen.