Category Archives: Mediation

TIME FOR FATHERS TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE

This is a direct quote from the Times last week.

The forthcoming President of the Family Division is sending out an S.O.S. to fathers.

Mr Justice McFarlane supports the message that children need relationships with both parents even if they have been separated.

Many fathers who I meet in mediation believe that they can only respond to the wishes of the mothers of their children rather than having a full and proactive role even where the parents have had to separate.

Many children are becoming used to their parents living in separate households and they need to be helped to become used to their new situation. As a family mediator, I find communication is vital for enduring and meaningful relationships to continue between separated parents and their children.  This happens through joint cooperation and foresight.  Separated parents often need some help to find a way forwards in achieving this and mediation is an excellent way of trying to help children find their own way without conflict and competing ideals.

There is a growing gangland culture whereby boys are joining gangs to find male role models, according to Britain’s top family judge.

And he says that the role of fathers in families is important.

I am heartened to read this because I fear many fathers feel they have few opportunities to continue their role to effect and this is really sad.   A child should have a decent relationship with both parents and fathers should play a role in their children’s lives.

Mr Justice McFarlane wishes to see fathers connecting with their children.  It is acknowledged that this can become terribly difficult where there may be three fathers for a mother’s three children.

Fathers are just as important to a child as mothers are, he says, genetically and in terms of identity and that a child is 50% of both of you in terms of another pair of hands, another brain, and another option.

Is it possible that a factor driving some boys into gangs is because there is no father role model at home?  So, Dads step up to the plate and help mediators and our judiciary to help the law provide a structure and solutions for family life which of course has changed so radically.

If you are struggling with making proper and consistent family and contact arrangements with your children then please consider family mediation as a first option.  The mediator does not take sides and will be trying to help both parents see the situation from a child’s viewpoint and to help parents make good decisions to enable children to remain safe and balanced in this challenging world.

Please contact Tricia Muzalewski, FMC and Law Society Accredited Family Mediator at Wynn Mediation at 612 – 614 London Road, Westcliff on Sea, Essex SS0 9HW. Telephone 01702 341241 or email enquiries@wynnmediation.com

 

PMM/Wynn Mediation                                                                                                                 July 2018

 

DOES LONDON REMAIN THE DIVORCE CENTRE OF THE WORLD AND WHAT IS SET TO CHANGE?

Amongst all of the discussions surrounding  the potential of a no fault divorce  an article yesterday, written by Frances Gibb, Legal Editor of the Times,  heralded proposals for a five-year limit on spousal maintenance awards in divorce with the intention of bringing to an end huge payouts and massive court costs.

Baroness Deech has spoken of the need to end the open ended divorce awards that have made London the divorce capital of the world.

There certainly has been a move to bring life time spousal support or maintenance awards to an end.

So we shall be looking towards more and more clean break settlements rather than the older type of award that provided indefinite  maintenance awards  and which critics have described as a “meal ticket for life”.

Baroness Deech is proposing in her Divorce (Financial Provision) Bill, a maintenance term of 5 years, with longer terms, only if needed, to prevent hardship.

The Times article provides that such a framework would avoid the need for “judge-made-law” and  appropriately points out that the opportunity for family mediation and out-of-court settlements can be arrived at without intervention by judges. It is hoped that this will herald change for people who do not wish to experience delays in the courts and to help towards reducing high charges involved within litigation.

 

The article refers to wasted costs of litigation and in particular to a husband who was awarded £50,000. However his costs and the bill presented to him by his solicitors was for £490,000.

Furthermore, pre-nuptial agreements are also referred to in the bill provided they are made water tight by both parties receiving legal advice.

Naturally, I was delighted to read that “The result of the bill should be better opportunities for mediation, less need to go to court, reduced trauma for children, lower costs, and easier time for litigants in person and a fairer outcome recognising partnership in marriage.”

If family mediation is a process that you would like to understand more about, please contact:

Tricia Muzalewski at Wynn Mediation, 612 – 614 London Road, Westcliff on Sea, Essex SS0 9HW

Wynn Mediation is a dedicated service. Please email us at:  enquiries@wynnmediation.com  or telephone us on  01702 341241

P.MUZALEWSKI, FMCA, WYNN MEDIATION,                                                                May 2018

 

 

WHY DO PEOPLE STILL USE THE FAMILY COURTS WHEN THERE IS FAMILY MEDIATION AVAILABLE?

I have read a recent article in the Law Society Gazette asking a similar question:

Why sack the only people propping up our justice system?

Court staff are papering over the cracks: now we’re set to hand them a P45.”

“Now we hear that court staff numbers are due to be reduced from 16,500 to 10,000. Mass redundancies appear inevitable and further court closures seem to be in the pipeline.

Let’s be clear: the system as it stands cannot cope with fewer people. It barely manages with the people it has. Cutting this number of staff means either making the system worse or fundamentally changing how we administer justice in this country. Anyone trying to argue differently is either blind to the consequences or is simply not telling the truth…”

Sadly, this affects people who place so much faith in the court system to receive justice and who are willing to put their lives on hold in the belief a judge will sort it all out.

As a family mediator, I hear of the frustratingly long delays suffered by people whose lives are halted and of the problems involved in attending a family court.

This is not intended by me as a criticism of the family justice system but it is vital that people who are in difficulty in sorting out family disputes are aware of the accessibility of high quality family mediation. Their dispute may be about resolving  an agree structure for  child arrangements or about financial and property issues, where the parties involved are confused about the steps they need to take towards achieving resolution.

FAMILY MEDIATION does exist to assist people in arriving at good fair and rational solutions that involve sensitivity and a safe neutral third party and a fair place to hold discussions without judgement and with access to lawyers if needed during the course of mediation.

The process can be put in place quickly and at cost effective rates.

There is no compulsion to mediate but frequently people manage to settle their disputes merely from attending the first confidential and individual meeting with an accredited family mediator who is available to listen and also to signpost appropriate agencies who can help to resolve their difficulties without recourse to the court.

For those who qualify there remains the possibility of applying for legally aided family mediation.

If you are interested in giving family mediation a try, then please contact  Tricia Muzalewski at Wynn Mediation, 612 – 614 London Road, Westcliff on Sea, Essex SS0 9HW

Our Email address is: enquiries@wynnmediation.com  or please  telephone us on  01702 34124.1

 

P MUZALEWSKI, FMCA WYNN MEDIATION                                                                           May 2018

 

 

   
   

 

MISTRESS FIGHTS WIDOW FOR SHARE OF £2.5 MILLION WILL – THE IDEAL DISPUTE TO BE DEALT WITH IN FAMILY MEDIATION

The claim is brought by a deceased wealthy businessman’s mistress for a share in his estate.

The businessman, Mr Baldev Kohli is described in the Times as a “larger than life” entrepreneur.

He had a relationship during his marriage to Mrs Harjeet Kaur Kohli and shared a house with his girlfriend, Melissa Proles and who is also the mother of their daughter, born in 2013.  He remained married and when he died the mother, Miss Proles brought a financial claim for “reasonable provision” from his estate, for their daughter.

Mrs Harjeeet Kaur Kohli  is disputing the claim on grounds her late husband’s intentions were not to abandon his family in India; nor was it his intention to make a home in Britain. Mr Kohli  died in Delhi at the age of 59 in 2015.

The case is being heard in the High Court in London  and the judge will be listening to arguments put by those representing each party to determine whether Mr Kohli’s will should be unpicked in order to make reasonable financial provision for his daughter  with Miss Proles.  The will did not make provision  and, hence,  the estate was left to his widow.

Questions are being  raised as to the child’s paternity  and as to whether the relationship between Mr Kohli and Miss Proles had hit the rocks before he had died.

The witch hunts and general defacing of the parties will continue. They will of course carry on  paying for their respective teams of lawyers and for  the cost of the hearing.    This is not to speak of the loss of privacy to the parties by the publication of the details of the case regarding their private lives.

A promise to marry on the part  of Mr Kohli is denied by his wife. However, do we ever really know what is said during a flourishing romance when we are not even present?  This has to be based upon fiction and expectation.

This distressing case illustrates the type of blind madness that strikes people in such a highly emotive dispute when others strip down and pontificate around the facts and assumptions reached on the basis of the ever thinning factual information available.

Within family mediation  we are able first  to meet separately with each party on a confidential basis with a view to establishing the facts of the case from each individual without pressure. It is then a matter of organising a sensitive joint mediation to help both parties to feel listened to and thereafter to try and agree a rational compromise which helps them to move on with their respective lives.

The costs of coming into mediation are minimal by comparison with the costs of litigation.

There must also be careful consideration paid to the costs of allowing your life to be taken over by the endless hostility  and exhausting  court process  that surrounds adversarial litigation which is all about money.  Instead,  it is vital to focus on the damage caused to the parties and their families by protracting such an acrimonious dispute.

In this case, Mr Kohli cannot return  to express his wishes unless he had the foresight to record his testamentary wishes by video or  by some other form of electronic secure device.

This case sets out the need for people with complicated lifestyles to consider  what happens when they die and of the need to provide for the beneficiaries or victims of individual lifestyle.  This is such a cruel situation for these people to find themselves in.    I would urge them to quickly seek mediation to compromise this dispute.

I recall a senior family law barrister saying to me once during a highly emotive case that many such disputes  are fought purely on the grounds of high principle.   Emotions are a terrible thing when they become unleashed and the parties are led down the cruel route of litigation without a break to think about costs and “fall out” from the effects of litigation.

Mediation is a reputable, professional,  tried and tested route for helping people who are in dispute to take advantage of a neutral place and an impartial professional facilitator(s)  to consider their positions objectively and where their motives for litigation are tested in such a way they are able to step aside for a moment to check what their reasonable expectations are. This is instead of the long and expensive railroad of litigation.

Family mediation is available to those who wish to  resolve inheritance disputes responsibly  and  who are in touch still with the practicalities as well as the sensitive way forwards to resolving  highly emotional disputes that have no certain pathway towards resolution in the courts.  The only certainty will be the very high costs and the never ending bitterness that will extend thereafter.

Please contact Tricia Muzalewski, Accredited Law Society and Family Mediation Council Mediator  at Wynn Mediation, 612 – 614 London Road, Westcliff On Sea, Essex SS0 9HW  E mail: enquiries@wynnmediation.com   or telephone 01702 341241.

 

PMM/Wynn Mediation                                                                                                                 January 2018

Gold plated retirement and pension packages – How do I know what these are?

Are you one of the lucky ones to be in receipt of a gold plated pension this year?

The Times reported recently on the disparity of pension provision and in particular the position of very senior civil servants who have amassed pension packages worth more than £1 million.

Traditionally those working in the public sector have not been the recipients of high earnings. These were the fruits of the top earners who remain working in the private sector.” Banking, finance and professional services are where the really serious money is to be made”.

So, why the outrage about those being paid high salaries in the City? At least their salaries are not met by the taxpayer.

The author asks, “Is there any risk for the public bureaucrats?”   Perhaps we have misunderstood or simply don’t value what they do.  Whatever the answer, the consensus seems to be that most senior public servants are generally paid less than their private sector counterparts. This is largely because their pensions form part of their remuneration package.

Why are pension payments of interest to us?

When people come into mediate surrounding  a marriage breaking  down, if they are looking at negotiating a financial settlement, it is important that all information about pension provision is available for sharing and so that fair decisions can be made.   It is strange how little people seem to know or even want to understand about where their money is placed in a pension. The court does need to know about a pension as this will often form either the largest or possibly the second largest asset of a marriage.

Pensions are regarded as part of civil service remuneration packages simply because they are gold plated.

We have recently been exposed to the shocking stories surrounding the sums paid to vice- chancellors of some universities, some of whom command salaries in excess of £400,000 per year. Also,   of very senior civil servants who have amassed pension packages worth more than £1 million.

Relative to this we are informed that the university pension scheme has built up a £175 billion deficit.  Questions have to be put including “How will this deficit be met?  Will it come from the students, taxpayers or university employees?”

There are changes ahead because pension fund administrators have to work out pension provision taking into account changes to life expectancy and increases in liabilities.  These considerations will surely affect future payment of the state pension.

Too many people who I meet in mediation are blinded by the  complexity of their own pensions and appear to have little relevant information at a time when they need to work out what capital and income  provision they have put aside for their retirement, whenever that might arise.

In past years many people had defined benefit occupational pension schemes which guarantee an index-linked salary-related pension from retirement until death.   It is rare to find a private sector organisation that has found these schemes affordable to continue and most have closed.

I read that in order to invest in a pension worth the package to a parliamentary secretary would cost around £3 million to buy. The return would be in the region of an annual pension of £85,000 a year plus a lump sum of £245,000. These are the truly gold-plated pensions and that come with amazing tax breaks.

The inconsistency will no doubt need to be addressed in the future in light of tax-advantaged wealth accumulation being frowned upon.

So much change has occurred with people not being able to claim their pensions until their late 60s. Why then are civil servants still getting full pensions from age 60?

My want is to try and understand the disparities in the pension administration system to help people to understand within mediation how their own pensions actually work and importantly when they will receive them. Within mediation we are able to signpost people to seek information to help them arrive at safe decisions based upon relevant and clear information which in turn offers fairness at a difficult time when people are expected to make important decisions about their future and the best route to take.

These and other important decisions may be taken within the mediation process so that fairness and trust are achieved.

Please contact Tricia Muzalewski, Accredited FMC and Law Society Family Mediator at Wynn Mediation.  Contact details: enquiries@wynnmediation.com or telephone on 01702 341241

 

PMM                                                                                                                                     December 2017