In the second of our series of articles about mediation and the impact of the coronavirus we consider the issues facing separating couples looking to resolve financial disputes at this difficult time.

How mediation can help

The Coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone from businesses to courts to individuals and family life. The impact on the economy is potentially very wide reaching with talk of an unprecedented worldwide recession.

Guidance has been issued by the court service and the judiciary to help with ongoing court cases and the management of hearings. These include the guidance issued by Mr Justice Mostyn – National Lead Judge of the Financial Remedies Courts. His advice issued on 17th March 2020 encouraged use of paper only first hearings (First Appointments) and the use of private Financial Dispute Resolution (FDRs) rather than the court FDR.

A FDR is a hearing aimed, with the assistance of the judge at identifying the issues and is aimed at resolving matters where possible at an early stage by agreement between the parties.

There has been a clear steer from the judiciary to use ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) where possible at all stages of a case during this current crisis.

Private FDRs are very similar to the court hearing and involve the parties, their representatives and a specialist family lawyer or sometimes a retired judge. The parties agree on the nominated specialist and parties pay for the private hearing. Prices vary but is never a cheap option and outside the price bracket of many people who start court proceedings.

Mediation offers an affordable alternative. Mediation can be started at any point in the court process as well as before court proceedings ever start. Financial Mediations at Edwards Duthie Shamash are carried out by a specialist family solicitor/mediator. We are happy, where it helps parties, to have solicitors involved directly in the process and are able to discuss our one day mediation model which involves a series of meetings throughout the day with time for the parties to discuss matters with their solicitors as the mediation progresses.

Practical issues impacting on financial disputes during coronavirus

Financial mediation involves making decisions about assets and liabilities which are likely to be in a state of flux at the present time. One option is to delay discussions and put matters on hold until the market recovers. The problem we all face is we don’t know when that will be. For many a more practical approach is to start the process and agree at an early stage how you want to deal with eg valuations of your house and pensions and work with estimates at the early stages of negotiations until realistic valuations can be obtained.

Mediation offers you the flexibility to decide the timing of meetings and how you want to approach these difficult issues.

Importantly mediation also offers an affordable way of reaching a settlement at a time when many people are feeling the financial impact of the pandemic.

For more information about our prices please visit our Family Mediation pricing page.

Please contact us directly on 020 8514 9000 or email us and we will respond at a time that suits you.

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