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If you are about to marry/enter into a civil partnership or start to formally cohabit with your partner you may wish to put some safeguards in place to protect yourself financially against the unfortunate breakdown of your relationship.  The method of doing this is to enter into a formal agreement namely a pre- nuptial agreement/pre-civil partnership contract or cohabitation deed.

Such agreements have been growing in popularity as decisions of the Higher Courts, particularly within the last 5 years, have provided endorsement to both pre and post nuptial agreements on the proviso that they are negotiated sensibly and each party has had proper independent legal advice.

It is not the most romantic notion in the world to ask your partner to sign an agreement to put some parameters in place in the event that the relationship ends further down the line. Many people shy away from broaching the subject let alone entering into such agreements for fear of damaging relations and potentially discouraging the other person from marriage or formal cohabitation. Entering into a formal agreement however can provide clarity and a degree of certainty for both parties to the relationship thereby reducing potential stress in the future.

You may be worried about becoming embroiled in an expensive legal debate with two sets of solicitors negotiating terms of the agreement for you, a process which doesn’t, by its nature, necessarily lend itself to positive relations however sensitively it is approached. There is however another way to negotiating the terms of the agreement and this is through the process of family mediation.

Mediation as a process is far more conciliatory than traditional methods of solicitor negotiations. The format of family mediation involves you and your partner sitting in same room with an experienced family law mediator and discussing matters around a table. The mediator can facilitate those discussions and help you to work through any issues in a sensitive and constructive manner.  Mediation is not an alternative to legal advice and it is important that you and your partner each have the benefit of input from independent legal advisers throughout the process.  Mediation is however a face to face forum through which the substantive discussions take place and you can work through any potential points of conflict/difficulty together as opposed to written correspondence on your behalf in a language which is not necessarily your own. 

The majority of literature and articles on the process of family mediation relate to how the process can assist and be a constructive method of resolving issues upon the breakdown of a relationship. Family mediation however is also an ideal forum for discussing financial matters prior to a marriage/entering a civil partnership or matters which may arise when purchasing a property or choosing to live with a new partner for the first time.

For more information and a confidential initial discussion please contact our specialist mediators Sally or Laura on