Joan and John were referred to mediation by their solicitors.
They were married for five years after a 25-year relationship and wished to deal with financial issues arising from the breakdown of their relationship. John lived in rented accommodation with his new partner and their two children under five years old. Joan lived in the former family house, owned and mortgaged in their joint names. John and Joan had two children who were both grown up and financially independent.
John and Joan had tried to discuss their finances between themselves, and, on seeking legal advice had been referred to mediation. They both hoped to be able to reach a fair and affordable settlement without the need to run up legal costs and court fees.
Both John and Joan were anxious and worried when they attended mediation. They both expressed their concerns in reaching a financial settlement which allowed Joan to remain living in the former family house and John to buy a property with his new partner.
They attended mediation in shuttle (where both parties use different waiting rooms, arrive at different times and undertake mediation in different rooms), each with someone in support to help with the paperwork and provide emotional support.
In early sessions, Joan and John were despondent about finding an affordable solution to their financial settlement and jumped to telling each other what to do. John wanted to sell the property and split the proceeds of the sale. Joan wanted to remain living in the property, which was close to family and a support network. Joan experienced mobility restrictions and health issues. Whilst John and his new partner worked, John was anxious to find an affordable solution, taking into account his monthly expenditures and high childcare costs.
John and Joan trusted in the mediation process, they listened to each other, shared information about their finances, worked through their disclosure and listened to the legal information provided by the mediator.
In between the mediation sessions, John and Joan remained open-minded and, with the help of family/friend support, they gathered further information and took independent advice, and explored their options. John and John returned to mediation and used this information to help inform their discussions.
The family members/friends attending with John and Joan were invaluable support. They helped with gathering paperwork and encouraged John and Joan to remain calm, which helped them think more clearly and logically.
Conclusion and outcome
Over a course of three shuttle mediation sessions (two hours each), Joan and John agreed a financial settlement. The mediator signposted them to independent financial and legal advisors, which helped John and Joan feel confident that their settlement would be approved by their solicitors and court.
A proposal was reached enabling Joan to remain living in the former family house and John to buy his rented property with a deposit and small mortgage. John and Joan used funds from the 25% tax-free drawdown of a pension fund to repay the outstanding mortgage and provide a deposit for John’s rented property. John and Joan acknowledged their settlement was an unequal split in John’s favour and made this decision bearing in mind Joan’s preference to remain living in the former family house, the impact of lump-sum payments on her benefits and the housing needs of two dependent children.