The high-profile divorce between Ant McPartlin and his estranged wife, Lisa Armstrong, rumbles on with Ant keen to hold further mediation talks but Lisa appearing to be bent on having her day in court.
While Ant is looking to avoid a very public and fractious court divorce, Lisa is reported to prefer this route because half of the TV presenter’s £62 million fortune is ‘not enough’ for her.
Although now looking highly unlikely, a fresh round of mediation talks on how the £62 million is divided would take place between the former spouses and a mediator behind closed doors.
As this high-profile divorce rumbles on, here are some key questions about mediation:
What is mediation?
Mediation is a means of resolving divorce disputes constructively, wherever possible, and avoiding costly, public and stressful litigation in court.
The private and confidential process involves an independent third party, a mediator, who helps you and your ex to reach an agreement. Both of you sign an ‘Agreement to Mediate’ to enable negotiation to continue on a ‘without prejudice’ basis.
What does a mediator do?
The mediator facilitates a series of voluntary discussions – assisting and guiding you both to explore and discuss issues and helping to move dialogue forward. A successful outcome results in an agreement which is formalised into a binding court order without you having to go to court.
Can I keep my own solicitor?
Yes, mediation enables you both to retain your own solicitor who you can consult outside of the meetings.
What happens if the mediation talks are deadlocked?
Because mediation is a voluntary process, talks can be concluded at any time if headway is not made.
Can mediation save on legal expenses?
Mediation can result in a swifter resolution, reducing legal expenses which mount up in prolonged divorce cases between warring couples.
I’ve heard its compulsory – is this right?
Mediation is a voluntary process and is not compulsory. You may have read about a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) meeting, usually relating to cases involving finances or children, which couples are expected to attend before court proceedings are issued.
These meetings are designed to inform both parties about alternative resolution schemes and to establish if the circumstances are suitable for mediation.
When is mediation not relevant?
In cases relating to domestic violence or child abuse one or other party may take the view that a mediation meeting is not appropriate.
About Peter Jones
Peter Jones is one of the country’s leading divorce and family lawyers. A qualified arbitrator and mediator, Peter set up Jones Myers as the first niche family law firm in the north of England in 1992 and has acted for a string of high-profile clients.
Renowned for his sympathetic approach, he is a former national chairman of Resolution, a former Deputy District Judge – and instigated the D5 Group of law firms that promotes excellence in family law. www.jonesmyers.co.uk