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Family Department

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Mediation

Mediation is where an independent and impartial person tries to work with parties to come to an agreement.  Mediators are trained to encourage useful and productive conversation.  They can also draw up agreements made during mediation.

Anyone wishing to proceed to court in order to settle their marital finances or seek a child arrangement order for example, must attend mediation in the first instance.  The first session will be an introductory meeting called a Mediation and Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) and this will be carried out usually with each party separately.  The mediator will then decide if the matter is suitable to proceed with joint or shuttle (separate) mediation sessions.

Some matters can proceed straight to court without a MIAM, such as circumstances involving domestic violence.  There are other exemptions which also apply.  We can advise you on mediation and make a referral should it be necessary.

Mediation is a useful way to reach an agreement without going through the court process.

Pre-nuptial agreements

Prenuptial agreements can provide some certainty and a way of protecting pre-marital assets, inheritances and existing family obligations such as children from a previous marriage.

A prenuptial agreement is a document in which a couple set out their rights in relation to any property, debts, income and other assets purchased together, inherited, or that they have brought into the relationship.

When you marry your assets become ‘matrimonial assets’ and, unless legally protected can be considered for division between you within divorce proceedings. The main purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to limit the potential claims on the assets of one of the parties to the marriage should the marriage end in divorce.  This ring-fences the identified property and assets within the pre-nuptial agreement.

At present a prenuptial agreement does not carry the same weight as a Court order and will not ‘automatically’ be upheld or enforced by an English or Welsh court in the event of a divorce and/or disagreement.   The courts do however take them seriously, as a prenuptial agreement is evidence of your intentions to one another in the event of your relationship breakdown and one of the factors that a court may take into account when looking at all the circumstances of your case.

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