Last week, Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, and his wife, MacKenzie, announced their separation on Twitter after 25 years together. They are each one-half of the world’s richest couple, with Jeff Bezos ranked #1 according to the Forbes ‘The World’s Billionaires’ list with a net worth of $112 billion. Whilst much of the media attention surrounding their separation has since focused on Jeff Bezos alleged affair, their joint statement which was posted on his Twitter on 9th January 2019 also deserves some attention. They said that “…after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends”. This is particularly poignant in light of Family Mediation Week, which will run this year from 21st January to 25th January 2019.
Upon separation, it is not uncommon for parties to feel that costly, time-consuming and emotional Court proceedings will be unavoidable. At a first appointment, we make sure to emphasise to our clients that upon separation there are a number of options available to them, including mediation.
Over the last three years, the Family Mediation Association has organised a campaign to raise the awareness of family mediation. Their aim is to let more people know about the benefits of mediation, and to encourage separating couples to consider family mediation as a way of helping them to take control of their situation and make decisions together.
Whilst mediation may not be appropriate in all cases, it certainly has a number of benefits which clients should consider, including the following: –
Family Mediation Benefits
Mediation is often charged on a session-by-session basis, and parties can, therefore, attend as few or as many appointments as necessary to try and reach an agreement in relation to their matter.
Parties have complete control over the offers that they wish to make, with the assistance of a trained mediator. This means that parties are able to come up with more creative solutions and agreements, which may not always be possible in the Court arena.
Parties that can reach an agreement between them, as opposed to having an order imposed on them by the Court, may feel more able to have an ongoing, amicable relationship knowing that they have both willingly entered into their agreement. When children are involved, this can be especially beneficial, so that the child understands that the decision that has been made by their parents has been reached in their best interests.
In financial matters, if parties are able to reach an agreement by attending mediation, we would always advise our clients to record that agreement in a Consent Order, which will then be filed with the Court for the Court’s approval. Until the Court has approved the agreement that has been reached, it is not legally binding and parties can leave themselves open to claims in the future.