25th Jan 2019

Agreeing to start a new chapter

Sarah Smith is a mediator and family lawyer with over 22 years’ experience. Marking Family Mediation Week 2019, she is exploring what the mediation process involves and what it means for separating couples and their families.   

We’ve reached the end of our week long journey the through mediation process. As we’ve seen it’s one which consists of a number of stages – asking questions, reflecting on the situation and crucially, with the support of a mediator, remaining focused on safeguarding what matters most and keeping control of the process.

So what’s the outcome of this? It may well turn out that when you have sold the family home, there was enough for you both to get somewhere new creatively using your savings and mortgage capacity.  It might not be as big but the kids are happy with both parents and that’s what’s most important. Even those pensions that seemed impossible – all sorted.  The business continues.  Life goes on.

At the last mediation meeting, as a mediator I will write up a Memorandum of Understanding; a short summary of what you have agreed to, so everyone knows and can walk away sure that it is finished. 

If you have lawyers as well, they are likely to convert this into a Consent Order.  This is a fuller version of that agreement, in the format required by the court. If your divorce is as far as the Decree Nisi stage, you can ask the court to approve it and seal it to confirm.  Practical arrangements follow, houses are sold or transferred, pensions shared and the kids getting used to two (happier) parents in two separate homes.

Then finally, one evening you get to open that bottle of wine and you look ahead. Maybe you shed a tear – it is the end of a chapter.  Maybe you are fearful all over again, but maybe you remind yourself of just how far you have come. 

Divorce isn’t easy. At Berwins we don’t dumb it down or glamorise it. What we do make it as dignified as possible and help to ensure you retain control. That is what truly gives you the opportunity to come out as unscathed as possible – ready for a new chapter.


Sarah Smith is Yorkshire’s only Eminent Practitioner in Family Law. She is both a qualified mediator and a collaboratively trained family lawyer.

Contact Berwins on 01423 543 108 or via family@berwin.co.uk to learn more about your family law options and to discuss whether mediation could be the right course for you and your family.

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