Copyright Moore Barlow LLP (Moore Blatch and Barlow Robbins merged May 2020)

Why Paul and Alex Hollywood may regret not continuing with family mediation

The press has recently reported that Paul Hollywood and his wife of 20 years, Alex, will be going to court to argue about the division of their financial assets. The press reports suggest that they had been trying to resolve matters in family mediation, but that this has now broken down so court proceedings are afoot.

The family mediation process will have involved the couple sitting around a table with an independent third party, the mediator, to go through a process of gathering the information and evidence of their respective financial assets and income, and then discussing settlement options to decide how best to resolve their dispute. The welfare of their son, Josh, would very much have been at the forefront of the mediator’s mind, and no doubt Paul and Alex. The ultimate outcome would be one arrived at via a consensus between the two of them, with the mediator helping to guide their discussions and assisting with helping them to generate options to consider.

If the mediator they used was, like me, a practising family law solicitor as well as a family mediator, then he/she would have been able to give them legal information too, such as the relevant legal criteria, what the court would take into account, the legal process and so on, to help them make informed choices about the final outcome. They would also no doubt have been encouraged to seek advice from their solicitors alongside the process.

One of the many benefits of family mediation is that it provides a forum where offers can be made, and options considered, without these ever being made known in any later court proceedings. These discussions are called “without prejudice”, which means there is a cloak thrown over the process to allow people to feel free and relaxed about coming up with suggestions and proposals, knowing that these can never come back to bite them.

Another advantage of mediation is that the couple make the decisions about what happens to their finances, and, if applicable, the arrangements for any children, not a judge. This means both have more control and input over the outcome which will affect the rest of their lives. You are much more likely to feel confident that you can live with a settlement if you have had a say in what it should be.

In addition, mediation is generally a much quicker and cheaper option than going to court and one which is more likely to preserve the overall family relations and co-parenting relationship, if applicable.  It is a bespoke process and can be tailored to suit each couple and family’s needs. For example, as well as the mediator, other professionals can be brought into the process to assist if beneficial; a family consultant can help manage heightened emotions or domestic abuse concerns, or a financial consultant can assist with pensions and tax information.

For more information about family mediation or any family law queries generally please contact Sarah French or another member of the Moore Blatch family team.


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