Avoiding Litigation

The civilized separation of “X” and “Y”

Following is an outline of the circumstances and the process the parties went through.

The marriage had broken down irretrievably and relationships were poor and volatile. There were only two points of agreement: they would separate and reach a formal agreement on the distribution of assets – they would not actually divorce, and they wished to avoid cost of employing Lawyers in order to reach agreement on sharing of assets.

There were no children involved.

Left to their own devices there was no chance that they would agree on anything, so each asked a friend to help the process as a “Mediator” and I was one of these friends. Before the process started I got to know the other Mediator – first decision was to call ourselves “Friends” rather than “Mediators” and we drafted a set of notes outlining the roles we were prepared to play.

These included:

the “Friends” were not entitled, or expected to, express an opinion regarding the details of the Separation of Financial Affairs,

the overriding objective of this arrangement was to ensure an Agreement was reached and the smooth enactment of the Agreement and that is the primary responsibility of the “Friends”,

the “Friends” would work hard not to “take sides”,

they would also establish an appropriate working relationship and be free to discuss relevant issues without feeling obliged to share details of these discussions with X & Y. In the case of dispute the objective of the “Friends” would be to propose a joint resolution.

An organisation called Peaceworks defines Mediation as “voluntary, confidential process where people involved in conflict are helped by a neutral third party (the mediator) to resolve their problems collaboratively. The mediator never takes sides or imposes solutions, but helps the participants reach a solution that they are happy with which is then drawn up into a written agreement”.

And that is pretty much what we did.

There were a lot of financial issues – with assets spread over several countries, various pension schemes, investments etc. As Mediators, we helped create a list of all assets and then promoted discussion on each until agreement was reached. There was a deal of Acrimony and on a couple of occasions: we Mediators threatened to pull out unless the two got themselves under control!

We recorded each element as agreement was reached and produced a final statement of intent, which they both signed. This was then formalised by a Solicitor in a manner which would allow proper distribution at that time and would also stand formally should they eventually divorce. This formal document was signed by both of them.

Once the agreement was formalised we drafted an Action Plan for the distribution of assets with a suggested timetable. As “Friends”, we monitored progress and cajoled when one or other was holding back.

It was not particularly easy but certainly achieved a better and cheaper solution than if Lawyers had been battling it out.

I also found it an interesting and rewarding challenge.