You will see that I have written an article on mediation in general. If you haven't read it yet, please do so as it explains how mediation works, mentions Collaborative Law and Family Mediation, the slightly different sort of mediation work that I do, and how mediation differs from the traditional route to separation and divorce.
I thought it might be helpful if I added a note on me, how I became involved in mediation, the sort of cases I am prepared to take on, the way I work, and a comment about my costs.
First of all, I am a Chartered Accountant and I have spent most of my career working in the City of London. Some time ago, friends (whose spouses were being foul) asked me if I would help put together the figures for their Form E, which is the huge financial document that usually has to be completed as part of the divorce process.
I became thoroughly involved in one of the cases to the extent that I was seeing all the correspondence, drafting replies, talking to and attending meetings with the solicitor, and so on. I was horrified by the tone of the letters that were going between the lawyers; the demands were quite unrealistic and would never have been accepted by the courts. All the letters seemed to do was crank up the animosity and make a bad situation even worse. As children were involved, I thought this was appalling.
Nevertheless, I found the whole process very interesting, and I remember thinking that I would be content if I could make a living doing the sort of work that I had done in helping my friends. A short time later, I found out about mediation and, having looked at it, switched careers as I really do believe in its value.
Not long ago, I was approached by a solicitor who had left the profession and been doing some community mediation. She wanted to become involved in the sort of work I do, and she found me the same way you have. We met and it became clear that to have a chartered accountant and lawyer working in association would be a very powerful combination for mediation - and so it has proved. Although we are not in partnership at the time of writing, we operate as South East Mediation providing a divorce mediation service in London and the south east of England.
Not all separations are suitable for mediation and we will not take all cases that come our way. We cannot take cases that are funded by Legal Aid, and we will not take cases where there are serious disputes over children. It is best that such disputes are resolved by family solicitors first, and then we may be able to help with sorting out the finances. Finally, it is probably best that very high value cases, involving complex trusts and so on, are handled by solicitors and barristers. That leaves quite a large amount of disputes where we believe we can help and, if we don’t think we can, we will say so.
As you will gather from the web-site name, we are based in the South East of England. We prefer to see clients face to face, as it is important that they are able to assess us and decide whether or not they can trust us to handle their sensitive and confidential issues. However, we are aware that, due to the internet, we will be reaching a geographically wider spread of potential clients. Therefore we can adapt our working practices to suit client and, for example, have 'meetings' using Skype.
In the event that a couple do decide to use our mediation services, we will require both parties to make a full and frank disclosure of their financial affairs; this is most important. It may be worth pointing out that, because a legally enforceable deed is based on the information provided, any material non-disclosure could result in action in court, the original agreement being set aside and substantial legal costs being borne by the offender.
To work out the financial situation, in effect, we draw up a family balance sheet. Thus we will need to know, for example, the value of you house (if you own it), the balance of your mortgage, the value of your savings and investments, pension fund details, credit card balances, and so on.
Often people think that solicitors will be able to find out more than mediators about their spouse's assets. The truth is that solicitors are as dependent as mediators on full disclosure by clients – unless one starts paying for special investigators.
We may also need to look at income and expenditure, both currently and what it is likely to be after financial separation. This is to ensure that any proposed plan will work in the future – there is no point in giving one party a huge house, if he or she cannot afford to run it or buy food.
Perhaps I should add that, unfortunately, we do need to make an income and we do not give free advice. On the other hand, we think our fees are reasonable and, normally, these are agreed at the outset, which gives clients some degree of certainty over costs.
If you wish to contact me, my details are as follows:-
Address: M H G Young FCA, 22 Arundel Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1TB
Telephone: 01892 519917 Mobile: 07773 281962