Posts Tagged: divorce

Mortgage and financial options: the need for early advice

Another useful article produced for Day 4 of Family Mediation Week:

Why you need a mortgage expert sooner than you think when you’re getting divorced

Written by Carl Mountain

“I’m going to my mother’s!” (and slamming the door) doesn’t let you off the hook if the marital home has a mortgage on it and you decide to get a divorce. If your name is on the mortgage, you are as liable as your spouse for the payments. So getting divorce financial advice early on is a good idea.

What’s yours is his and what’s his, is yours – including debts and mortgages. And if the payments are not made, your credit history will be damaged.

So getting to a place of financial independence as soon as possible – even before the divorce is completed – is vital. It’s never too early to sit down with a financial planner to look at how to achieve that independence in the longer term – and also to deal with mortgage and property issues in the short term.

Your financial advisor will suggest that you contact your mortgage company and if the situation is complex (spouse refusing to pay the mortgage but has control of the purse-strings) then the mortgage company may offer a payment holiday – which can buy you valuable time. Getting divorce financial advice at an early stage is a very good idea.

 What are my mortgage and financial options?
If your name is not on the deeds, then you can register your matrimonial rights through the Land Registry to stop your partner selling against your wishes. Especially if the house was bought after you were married.

When it comes to divorce in the UK, the matrimonial home is considered a joint asset and you cannot be forced to leave by your partner. Don’t let them bully you into thinking they can. This is why getting some initial legal advice is a good idea.

Providing your house is easy to sell, just both moving out and selling up can seem the simplest option, and may allow a clean break divorce settlement to become a realistic solution. However, if your kids are settled in the local school, and you are not going to be able to buy a big enough house for the family with the proposed divorce settlement, then selling up may not be the best option.

Read full article here: https://alternativedivorcedirectory.co.uk/need-mortgage-expert-divorce-financial-advice-kingston-surrey-london/

The options about what to do and how to move forward can be talked through in a calm and constructive way in mediation.

Family Mediation Week 2018: Day 4

Day 4 of Family Mediation Week and there are many more excellent contributions.

The following from Anne Braithwaite, is particularly informative and helpful in explaining what mediators actually do that can help:

Amongst all the heartache and anger, there is fear!

Written by Anne Braithwaite, FMA

I have been a mediator for over 25 years. For all but the last 5 ½ of those years, I was also a divorce lawyer dealing with all the fall out when a marriage ends with a focus on money. I guess I’ve now spent going on for 35 years helping people from all walks of life sort out what to do when the world as they know it ends. I know that, amongst all the heartache and anger, there is fear about what the future will bring. Until finances are sorted out it’s impossible to live other than in limbo, a very insecure place to be.

So everybody who separates needs to resolve financial issues before they can rebuild their lives. Often having a safer place financially speaking helps focus on the emotional needs of children. It also means you can answer the questions which they have about where they will live and go to school.

Many people don’t have a clue where to start or, even if they do, feel the need of some professional help. A mediator gives that help. Mediators don’t just get couples in a room and then let them just try to sort things out. How would anyone know where to start? That’s the mediator’s job. Whilst being flexible to the needs of each couple, mediators are in charge of the actual process. Your mediator ensures that sessions have focus and that the whole process feels that it is going somewhere. Mediation has to feel safe and that it has a structure and purpose.

Separation is new to you. You need to understand what the rules are. Mediators help there by giving what we call “legal information”. That means explaining things such as what the relevant legal factors are in a neutral way. I know my clients find that knowing what a court would consider helps them talk about their own financial division and what feels like a fair outcome. Having that information enables people to start to talk with a sense of direction.

Mediators also help to explain what you might do about pensions for example, a subject of great importance where most people feel at least a little at sea. Mediators make suggestions about how to achieve agreed valuations and get mortgage advice. They help you pull all the threads together. This is all new to clients but many mediators have years of experience in the family law field. We are guides through the process who can pass on knowledge so that you realise that you actually can be in control of what happens. Crucially a mediator will help you work out the shape of your future.

This is all against the background of full financial disclosure. There has to be evidence about income and capital, not just taking each other’s words for things. Apart from the fact that nobody can start to talk about dividing everything up without establishing what is there in the first place, mediators realise that trust is usually in short supply. Clients only feel safe to negotiate when they are sure of the facts.

A mediator will also listen to what is important to you both and may help you take into consideration things that haven’t even occurred to you, or at least not to both of you, such as being able to live in areas which offer a chance of getting children into good schools and how to help your children through higher education and to afford the school trips that their friends will go on.

When you decide on what you want to do, the mediator sets that out in a memorandum of understanding. This isn’t legally binding yet as it is the last step in negotiations. It’s also a good idea to have legal advice before making your proposals legally binding. I always strongly suggest to my clients that they take that advice in between our mediation sessions and not wait until the mediation is concluded. The terms in the memorandum are made legally binding by having either a separation agreement or a consent order made in divorce proceedings.

Mediation is a professionally led means of negotiation, a negotiation where you are assisted by a neutral third party who will be able to give you legal information and practical pointers whilst ensuring an equality of bargaining power between the two of you. It is a process where the two of you determine the shape of your futures for yourselves. After all only the two of you know what will best suit you and your family. What mediation is not, is remotely fluffy.

Anne Braithwaite

Treasurer on the board of The Family Mediators Association

Family Mediation Week 2018: Day 2

Todays theme is “Take a breath, evaluate and then take a step forward.”

Amongst today’s contributions there’s this evocative and visceral poem by 16 year old Abigail to explain how she felt about the way her parents handled their divorce:

“Although it may have been painful, I think we should have been involved a little more with the divorce.”

Written by Abigail, aged 16

That Silence

Was it a blessing or a curse?
That Silence.
Did it mask the cracks or make them worse?
That Silence.

Were the soundless arguments
Protective? Secretive? Catastrophic?
Were the avoided conversations
Out of love? Out of sympathy? Out of cowardice?
That Silence.

Would snide remarks have softened the surprise?
Would shouting matches have stopped the tears?
Would shattered plates have been the warning signs?

My unanswered questions.
Because of
That Silence.

-Abigail

I wrote this poem in reflecting how my parent’s divorce played out from my point of view. I was 11 when we were told. My brother (then 13) and I were called downstairs to the living room – our 4 year old sister was asleep. We sat on different sofas, I sat with mum and my brother slumped next to my dad (the irony of those sides now makes me smile). After we were told, we all had a group hug. It was the last time I hugged my mum and dad at the same time. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on my brother’s face, sodden with tears, trying to reassure me we were going to be ok but I knew it was going to be tough. This came as a real shock for me and my brother, fortunately my sister was too young to truly understand what was going on. One of my closest friend’s parents had gone through a very rough divorce with endless arguments and court dates. I guess my parents had learnt from this ugliness and wanted to protect us. So there were no arguments in front of us, no shouting matches across the stairs, no tears, no slamming doors. I know they did this to protect us. If there was any way to redeem the marriage, our family, I know they’d have wanted to. The downside of That Silence though was that it was a complete shock to us. There were no pre-warning sides to prepare us. Since the divorce we’ve had to piece things together ourselves. My grandmother had told me that they’d been going to counselling for quite a while – but how long? My dad moved out. A stranger moved in. At first the stranger was just coming round for tea or giving us lifts until the second Christmas, when me and my siblings were with our dad, my mum and the stranger went on holiday. They came back engaged. This news crushed me. I felt betrayed by my own mother. I really disliked the stranger – she knew. We’d had many conversations with tears and pleadings for one of us to change their mind. It wasn’t that this new stranger was trying to replace my dad – he never could- but some people you just don’t get on with. Also we had never been properly introduced and the engagement was a huge surprise to me. I still don’t get on with this stranger. Never have, never will. I don’t want my parents back together, dad has moved on and couldn’t be happier and I couldn’t be happier for him. I always wonder if I would have liked this new stranger if we had been properly introduced.

The poem is mostly for parents to see how, although it has good intentions, not arguing in front of kids can sometimes make the whole process worse. My brother and I are very mature and we were at that time too so we understood what was happening and wanted to ask questions but couldn’t. Although it may have been painful, I think we should have been involved a little more with the divorce as we still don’t fully know why there was a breakdown in their marriage.

www.voicesinthemiddle.org.uk

 

Family Mediation Week 2018: Day 1

We are supporting Family Mediation Week 2018.  The theme for Day 1 is ‘Somebody, please help!’

There are lots of really interesting articles to read relating to this theme that discuss the value and benefits of mediation on the Family Mediation Week Blog.

My picks of the day are the video from Fegans: Counselling Children, Supporting Parents and Wells Family Mediation, which gives a realistic sense of the impact of parental conflict on children…

… and this article from Glynne Davis that rings true with my professional experiences.

The seven habits of successful mediation participants

Written by Glynne Davies, College of Mediators

The seven habits of successful mediation participants. The following mini case studies are genuine, although the names have obviously been changed to protect…well me really!

1. They are sure that the relationship is over permanently

Mediation is a process designed to help couples, as famously said by Gwyneth Paltrow, consciously uncouple. If you are harbouring secret thoughts that your ex is just going through a mid-life crisis, and as soon as he/she comes to his/her senses he/she will come running back to you, then mediation is not for you. You may be able to go through the motions, but at the moment when you have to make a decision, the primeval part of your brain will take over and shout “Don’t do this! As soon as you do this it will all be over.” If you are ambivalent about separation, then if possible take a bit more time to come to terms with what’s happening.

Case Study: Anthony and Cleopatra had 5 sessions of mediation, at the end of which we had several options, any of which were “approved” as fair by their respective solicitors. But Cleopatra couldn’t let go of the relationship and kept prevaricating. In the end we put mediation on ice for 6 months, at which point they returned and settled in one session.

2. They want to minimise solicitor costs and avoid court costs?

Well, duh. Everyone wants to minimise costs and avoid court…don’t they? Strangely enough the answer is no. Some people are so hurt/angry that they would sooner spend every penny that they have rather than share it with the ex that has broken their heart. Others that like to think that their situation is so difficult that only a judge can unravel it. Mediation is unlikely to help them, but for those who simply prefer to allow their solicitors to negotiate on their behalf, mediation can help save time and money.

Case Study: Heathcliff and Cathy used mediation to complete their financial disclosure and listen to initial proposals for settlement, They agreed several important issues and narrowed the gaps on others, but Cathy wanted her solicitor to conclude negotiations. They still saved hundreds of pounds by using mediation to complete their financial disclosure, agree their “Form E” information and listen to each other’s proposals.

3. They can put the needs of their children first

In the horror of separation it is easy to lose sight of the needs of the children. They become pawns in the worst game of chess ever. Research tells us that separation doesn’t hurt children, but conflict does. By resolving the conflict, you put the needs of your children first

Case Study: Porgy and Bess had sent their daughter to Hungary to be with grandparents because neither parent wanted the other parent to “have” her. They took the stance “If I can’t have her, neither can you.” As a result the child was away from home for 8 months. They sorted out a shared care arrangement in one session of mediation that meant that the child could return home

4. They are honest and open

It’s not uncommon for one party to deal with “the money side of things”, and for the other party to feel at a disadvantage. Mediation ensures that financial disclosure takes place fully and openly, and at a pace that promotes equal understanding and informed consent.

Case Study: Bonnie was nervous about using mediation because Clyde had always taken care of the finances. We took financial disclosure at Bonnie’s pace. Clyde was relieved that he had an opportunity to explain things in a non-confrontational way, and Bonnie appreciated having a greater understanding of their situation.

5. They are flexible/willing to listen

If you believe that there is only one solution, and that mediation would be a good way for the mediator to convince your ex of the rectitude of your position, then mediation is not for you

Case Study: Fred and Ginger each attended a separate MIAM. Ginger was happy to keep an open mind about options for settlement, but Fred was adamant that there was only one solution and that he wanted to go to court to get it. By attending the MIAM Fred and Ginger complied with the statutory requirement to consider mediation.

6. They want closure

Some people feed off conflict with their ex. They feel safe being angry; a conflicted relationship is better than no relationship. But for mediation to succeed, there has to be a degree of emotional neutrality. To put it simply, you need to be sick of the fight.

Case study: Elsa and Anna separated 3 years before they came to see me, referred by court. Theirs had been a story of constant bickering over trivia. They had settled the major things fairly easily, but continued to make spurious applications to court for minor changes to their ever more detailed contact order. In mediation we established that there was almost nothing in dispute, and talked about the fact that they had never got “closure”. I signposted them to couples counselling to talk about the end of the relationship, and how to “let it go”. They returned to mediation and agreed a parenting plan.

7. They have the stamina to stay with the process

Mediation is not for the faint-hearted, but if you can practise the above 6 habits in mediation, you will get there.

Case study: All the clients who have ever successfully concluded mediation

Family-Mediation-Week-2016

It’s time to choose a better way: Able Mediation supports Family Mediation Week 2016

Every year, thousands of families are torn apart by bitter court battles. Relationships between separating parents are irretrievably broken, and all too often their children are caught up in the middle.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

There is another way, a way that has helped many divorcing parents build a constructive future for their family, without a court imposing decisions on them.

About family mediation

Family mediation puts you in control, with the help and support of highly trained professionals who can help you make decisions about your future.

Research shows that mediation is often the best way for families to resolve conflicts. It is proven to be faster, less costly and – crucially – less adversarial than divorcing through the courts. Unfortunately, too few people know about it, and end up locked in angry disputes that have far-reaching consequences for them, and for their children.

Family Mediation Week (11-15 January 2016)

11-15 January 2016 is Family Mediation Week. Organised by the Family Mediators Association (FMA), our aim is to raise awareness of mediation as an alternative to court battles for separating couples.

Mediation can help you take control of your own family’s future, making constructive decisions together rather than asking someone else to decide what should happen to your children or your finances. We want to help and support people at the point of separation, and also let other people know that family mediation is an option they can suggest to friends or family members who are experiencing separation and don’t know where to go for help.

Over the course of Family Mediation Week, we will be publishing information and resources to help more people understand that there is a better, more constructive option that puts children first and helps separating families create a brighter future.

Find out more:

To receive more information about family mediation, how it works and how it can benefit separating families, contact us directly by phone or email, like our Facebook page, follow Juliet on Twitter or visit our member organisation website at www.thefma.co.uk or www.familymediationweek.org.uk