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Is your property mediation stuck on an impasse?

Mediation empowers both parties to agree on the net asset pool, consider financial and non-financial contributions, future needs and agree on a fair and equitable outcome.

Sounds simple enough…. but what if you just can’t agree?

Way before agreeing on an outcome, you need to agree on the net asset pool so you know the starting point that you are negotiating from.

You may say your car is worth $5K and your ex may say it is worth $10K. Bear in mind you have to think what you would get if you tried to sell it.

You may say that the house contents are $5K and your ex says $50K. Remember it is not the price to purchase new, but if you sold your contents second hand.

Don’t use up too much of your mediation session arguing over the balance sheet unless it is high value significant amounts such as the family home, your own business, an investment property, or Lamborghini in the driveway! If you didn’t get them valued prior to mediation you may agree on an action to get those items formally valued and who will do it by when.

Next, you will both consider the financial and non-financial contributions throughout the relationship. The financial provider role and homemaker role tend to offset each other as each role supported the other in the symbiotic existence in supporting the family.

The future needs take into consideration, future earning capacity, age, health etc to ensure both parties have sufficient means to rebuild their lives.

During negotiations there can be an impasse where you get stuck unable to agree. This is when both parties need to consider whether the impasse value outweighs the impasse impact.

I generally get my clients to assess the impasse value versus the impasse impact set out below;

By reflecting whether the impasse value they may be arguing over is worth the impasse impact. The impasse value may be important to a party as it may be a family heirloom, passed down through generations such as grandmothers jewellery or it could be $50K more that you think you should get.

The first impasse impact could be future legal costs which is approximately $100K per party, 12months+ going through the court process and emotional stress endured…… to fight for that $50K.

The second impasse impact is assessing what the impact on your ongoing coparenting relationship will be as you need to be in each other’s lives coparenting your children for many years to come. You might think you won’t have to see your ex again, which is true if you don’t have children…. but most parties do. Your children will be looking to you to help them adjust and transition to the new family structure. You will have to be at joint events. Your children can’t have two graduations or grand finals because their parents can’t stand being at the same event together. Is it worth fighting for the impasse value if it is going to create ongoing bitterness in your coparent relationship?

The third impasse impact is the emotional & psychological welfare of your children as you continue to battle long term through more mediations and possible court action. Ask yourself if the amount you are fighting over is worth delayed settlement on your kid’s mental health and possibly your own mental health too.

The fourth impasse impact is your long-term financial security. The longer you take to resolve your property settlement the longer it takes for you to take your share to start a new life. The impasse value may not be worth waiting 12months+ to establish a new home to start getting settled into a new routine for you and the children.

Emotions may be running high as you may not feel emotionally ready for the changes ahead. You may feel angry that your ex has put you in this situation with the fear of what the future holds. You may resist agreeing to anything as you don’t want the status quo to change. If this is the case, you may benefit from pre-mediation preparation sessions to help you shift your mindset from past to the future, shift from problem to solution, and reduce the overwhelm and uncertainty of rebuilding your life.

Mediation keeps you empowered to own the outcome, don’t hand that power over!

For mediation options click here

Author – Cheryl Duffy, Divorce Coach, NMAS Mediator, Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner & Parenting Coordinator

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