If you are not married, you do not have the same legal rights as a married couple, no matter how long you have lived together, or whether or not you have children together, own property together, or share the same financial arrangements.
When such a relationship – often referred to inaccurately as a ‘common law’ husband and wife, or simply as cohabitants – comes to an end, it might not be completely clear who is entitled to what, and particularly where substantial finances or dependants are concerned, this can create problems.
You may not be going through a divorce, however unmarried mediation serves to fill the gap that is currently left in the law, at a time when more people are living together as couples for longer, and having children together, without getting married first. A mediator can help you to negotiate with one another amicably, ideally to divide any assets, finances and custody rights without the need to go to court.
It is important also to recognise that if you are part of a same-sex couple and are not married or joined by a civil partnership, this applies to you too. While the law has made progress in terms of equal marriage rights, unfortunately the converse is also true, and the gaps in the law for unmarried couples also exist for same-sex cohabitants.
Mediation can help also if you do not live together, but still share ownership of finances or assets, or parental responsibility or guardianship for one or more children. In some instances only one partner may be registered as a legal parent or guardian of the child – and mediation can ensure both are treated fairly during the separation, and in the arrangement of residential and visitation rights afterwards.
As with any family law case, the role of mediation is to resolve any disputes amicably, quickly and at a lower financial and emotional cost than going to court. With the help of your mediator, you can break down the barriers that might be preventing you from reaching a mutually agreeable decision, and find an outcome that allows all concerned – including any affected children – to move on with a minimum of stress and distress.
After the Mediation
By using accredited family mediation techniques and by simply being there for you when you need it, Marcia Mediation will take you way beyond your separation so that you and your family are aligned towards the overall happiness of everyone.
A pioneer for mediation since commencing legal practice as a family solicitor some seventeen years ago Marcia has worked exclusively as an independent mediator since 2004, focusing initially on family mediation, and latterly on work place mediation.
Marcia’s accreditations include both Work Place and Family Mediation and she is a qualified child consultant practitioner. Her associations include the Professional Mediators Association and Resolution.