When David and Claire Hamilton (not their real names) first came through our door, they were a married couple in the aftermath of a separation. Despite over four years of marriage, the couple felt that the breakdown in their relationship was irreparable and it was now time to bring things to an end. They had two major concerns. 1. What impact the separation would have on their two young children (aged 3 and 5) and 2. What would be the financial implications?
As could be expected in circumstances like this, David and Claire both had very strong views about how best to resolve their situation. David was worried about what effect the separation would have on him. It wasn't his decision to end the marriage and he felt that he could potentially lose everything, including his home. The couple had very little savings and he felt that the only fair way to resolve the matter would be to sell the family home and divide the money so that they could each buy a new home for themselves. Claire's priority, however, was to get things done as quickly as possible. She had cited David's unreasonable behaviour towards her as the main reason for the breakdown in their relationship and she wanted him out the house as soon as possible. She had no intention whatsoever of selling the house and wanted to stay there with the children in order to give them at least a little stability during the separation.
Since the break up, David had been struggling to find places to sleep. Having exhausted the hospitality of family and friends, he was worried that if the situation regarding finances and the family home dragged on much longer, he would be on the streets at night. Knowing that the couple weren't making much progress by themselves, he suggested using our mediation service to help the couple resolve some of their major problems.
Over a number of meetings with the couple, our mediators helped David and Claire take a more realistic look at their finances and their likely needs once they had separated. Because there were children involved, it was important for the couple to put their anger to one side while a civil and well informed decision was made. They were encouraged to obtain advice about Tax Credits and about mortgage options and were given all the relevant information and contact details that they needed. When they had a full picture of their financial situation they looked together at all the options open to them.
After a while, it became clear to David and Claire that they both had to modify their expectations in order to come to a civilised agreement. By focusing on the children's welfare and by considering a wider range of options than when they started mediation, they were soon able to come up with an arrangement that suited both parties which allowed Claire to remain in the family home but release enough money for David to buy himself a small property nearby.
When David and Claire first came to us, they had expected much more of a fight over the family home. What helped resolve the situation before it got out of hand was our mediators' impartiality and skill in getting the couple to work on their problems together.
Chorley Help the Homeless Ltd
45 Clifford Street
Tel: 01257 273 320
Mon, Tue, Thu: 9:30AM - 2PM
Fri: 9:30AM - 1PM