Most people wishing to discuss money and property do so in the context of divorce proceedings or with a view to separating.
You will hear the term 'financial disclosure' used by the mediator and this part of the mediation process is really important to get right. Before any decisions can be made about how you choose to separate your finances, you both need to know what there is. This includes exchanging supporting documents.
You will be asked to prepare details relating to your assets (what you own including any items in joint names), liabilities (debts), income details and some figures for predicted future income and outgoings.
- Making a list of all the money you usually earn or receive over a given period of time (weekly, monthly, etc).
- Making a reasonable estimate of what you would expect to have to pay for in the future including housing.
- Providing details of any property, savings, shares, insurance policies, pension rights and other capital assets in which either of you have an interest.
- Identifying loans and debts for which either of you are liable.
Using this information, you will be helped to negotiate on such matters as:
- The Family Home – who should live there, should it be sold and, if so, when and how should the money be divided? (In the case of a rented home, should the tenancy be changed or transferred?)
- Other property – what will happen to investment properties and holiday homes?
- Pensions – will these be shared or their value offset against other assets?
- Possessions – how should these be shared between you?
- Debts – how will these be dealt with?
Most people in mediation spend time discussing:
- What is 'fair' (which may not necessarily mean a 50/50 split). You are unlikely to hold the same views on this, at least at the outset, and the word 'fair' can mean many different things to different people. Mediation is used to explore this important concept.
- What is realistic? Reality testing at this point can be very effective.
- What best meets the needs of all members of the family, particularly the children?
- How might your circumstances be expected to change in the future?
As most people wish for their proposals to be made either legally binding via a Financial Consent Order or some form of Separation Agreement, you can see how important it is to get this part of mediation right.