In some cases, it may be more appropriate to separate from a partner, either instead of or ahead of divorce or civil partnership dissolution.

Ahead of Family Mediation Week 2024, the family law team at Langley Wellington are exploring the benefits of pursuing mediation where separation is appropriate. They also consider the importance of having a separation agreement in place.

What is Family Mediation Week?

Organised by the Family Mediation Council (FMC), the annual event aims to raise awareness about family mediation and the associated benefits for separating couples.

Family mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that involves speaking with an impartial third party, professionally trained in resolving disputes (the mediator), to discuss issues arising from the relationship’s breakdown.

What are the benefits of family law mediation?

In a family law dispute, mediation offers an opportunity to resolve the issue(s) at hand outside of a court setting, which can save time, money, and the necessity of placing blame.

Some advantages include:

  • Mediation allows a matter to be resolved far quicker than in court.
  • Mediation allows a couple to share the cost, saving on legal fees.
  • The non-confrontational nature enables a mutual agreement to be reached.
  • An independent mediator allows couples to focus on the future.
  • Court can often be traumatic for all parties, taking an emotional toll. This is less prevalent in the neutral environment mediation provides.
  • In the UK, family mediation is ‘without prejudice’, meaning matters can be discussed openly and explored without legal binding.
  • Couples retain control of their agreements rather than delegating decision powers to a third party, such as a court.
  • The process is bespoke and can be suited to a couple’s individual needs.

What is a separation agreement?

A separation agreement is typically created and enforced when a couple is unsure whether they want to divorce or dissolve their civil partnership or whilst they are unable to do so.

These written agreements are bespoke and can make provisions for a variety of the couple’s shared assets, finances and children.

Your separation agreement may cover various areas, including:

  • Who is responsible for paying the rent/mortgage/household bills.
  • Who continues to live in the family home.
  • What happens if the family home is sold.
  • What happens to joint savings/investments/other financial assets.
  • What happens to other joint items such as cars/furniture.
  • Whether maintenance payments are made to support a spouse/any children.
  • Childcare arrangements, including who lives where and when, and any parental access arrangements.

Is it possible to create a separation agreement without mediation?

Mediation can often prove incredibly beneficial to couples seeking to create a separation agreement, as it allows them to address and agree on arrangements for property, finances and children without going to court.

However, in some cases, particularly where the decision to separate is mutual and amicable, involving a mediator may not be necessary. This is up to the couple’s discretion; however, they may also choose to seek the opinion of their solicitor. A legal professional may recommend mediation where they predict that conflict arising to be likely.

Family Solicitors for Separation Agreements

Regardless of the complexity of your family circumstances or dispute, Langley Wellington’s experienced and reliable matrimonial law team in Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds have the knowledge to assist.

We will carefully explain your options to you and ensure you are clear on the costs involved before guiding you through every step of the process.

Our family law proficiency includes the following:

To speak with a member of our team today, please call 01452 521 286 (Gloucester Office), 01242 269 998 (Cheltenham Office), email or fill in this contact form.

All of our work is executed with complete confidentiality, allowing you to have peace of mind. For you, your family and your business.

This blog is not intended to be taken as advice or acted upon. If you are seeking legal advice, please get in touch with our team of solicitors.