How to Get a Binding Agreement
Most separating couples want to come to an arrangement that they will both stick with.
During mediation couples can discuss all sorts of options, and take legal advice on them. The great thing about mediation is that it is a safe space, and you can discuss every option, without worrying that you are stuck with it. You are not. You are able to work together to find a solution that works for you both.
You will have a chance between sessions to think about what you have discussed. You may come up with an even better solution for you both and you can bring that to the next session to discuss. You are not bound by your discussions until you have reached proposals in mediation setting out how you want to proceed, and then you can ask your solicitor to make the proposals binding.
What about the kids?
Many parents want to set out the arrangements for their children in a parenting plan. Your mediator can help you to discuss what you both want to be included in that, and how you both wish to shape your child’s future. If you want to, you can ask the Court to make this into a binding arrangement. Very often though, parents know that the arrangements may need to alter as the children grow up, and so a mediated parenting plan suits them very well.
What about the house?
For a married couple their financial arrangements can be made binding as part of a divorce in what is called a “Consent Order.’ If you are not married then you can ask your solicitor to draw up a ‘Separation Deed’.
The key ingredients for getting to a binding arrangement for finances is that you need to have independent legal advice, and that there needs to be full and frank financial disclosure.
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What happens next?
So, once you know what you have, we help you to think about how to separate your resources in a way that works best for everyone. Between us, Horizon Mediators have helped hundreds of separating couples like you to develop solid workable plans going forward. We help you to work out what needs to be done on a practical as well as a legal level.
When you can’t see a way forward sometimes with the help of a third person in the room we can find solutions that you may not have even thought of. Or we may see gaps in your proposed plans which we can help you to fill.
So now you have your financial summary and your proposals for financial separation. The Consent Order is drafted putting these into the correct legal form for the Judge to approve.
Once this has been done you have a legally binding arrangement between you.
Leaving you free to move on with your lives, knowing you can afford to live separately and everyone is safe
Financial Disclosure – will it take a long time and cost a lot of money?
Short answer: No, not if you don’t want it to!
Your mediator can help you to prepare the financial information and present it to your solicitor as a complete package. This will save you time and money.
You both need to have a full picture of what your resources are: your income, how much your house is worth, the value of other assets eg savings, a business, any pension.
Your mediator will explain to you, at the initial meeting, how you can both help yourselves to complete that by filling in a Form E. The Form E is a standard form used by solicitors as part of the Court process.
Once you share that Form E, with the documents in support, the mediator will then be able to prepare a useful summary, which you would then both sign to confirm it is an accurate summary of your financial position. This is called an Open Financial Statement.