Government cut backs in the public sector mean it is now more expensive and takes longer for a court to deal with a financial application within divorce proceedings. Mediation can be a significantly cheaper and quicker way to resolve financial issues.
The mediation process involves the couple working with a mediator who encourages them to come to a mutually acceptable solution. The mediator is impartial, ie will not be advising either of them, but will give them information for example, how in his or her experience the court might deal with a particular issue eg duration of maintenance or inherited wealth.
With financial proceedings, if the case is being decided by a judge, he or she will have quite a wide discretion as to what settlement is appropriate in any given case. This can make it very difficult to predict the outcome with potentially thousands of pounds being spent obtaining an order that no one is happy with. The mediation process can take into account the priorities of both (eg one wanting to keep the house the other pension) and consider whether a clean break settlement is the best solution. It is arguably far easier to live with a settlement into which you have had input than one that has been imposed on you.
The mediator will want both to provide financial disclosure but the couple can decide when and for what period this is provided (the court process requires bank statements for a year but if the decision to separate is mutual and recent the couple can in mediation agree a shorter period).
It is normally possible to have a first mediation appointment within a week of the mediator speaking to both. By contrast the first court hearing is normally 3 or 4 months after the court process the application.
The mediation process is therefore normally significantly quicker and cheaper and usually improves rather than damages the couple’s relationship hopefully making future co parenting easier.