In our experience, it appears as though our classic participants distribute across the spectrum of younger and older individuals although ‘realism’ (i.e. acknowledge the distinct possibility of separation) seems to be a universal trait. On one side we have the younger participants, who for the most part are proactive in their thinking that separation is a relatively common occurrence. (i.e. statistically relevant; a by-product of modern living like student debt or increased occupational stress) Easily verifiable stats suggest that well over a third of younger unions will terminate with or without the marital bans or children of the relationship or marriage. These younger participants (let’s say under the age of 35 years) want to respond to their joint and several interests in creating a prenuptial or pre-relational agreement to ensure that there are no misunderstandings in the case that separation does, in fact, occur. Aided by the Internet is readily available information and shared common concerns, they seek “to do it themselves” and avoid the pitfalls of court intervention. Quite frankly they are skeptical that the powers that be including judges and lawyers and court processing really reflect their values. (highlighted by increased information and conflict avoidance)
On the other side of the spectrum we see the older and in a general sense the more experienced domestic survivor. This is the post 45 years individual or second-time round participant who is adamant about not making the same mistake again. He, she or they may have experienced higher conflict, general dysfunction, or a downright ‘War of the Roses’. And if they didn’t actually engage the’ litigation as war’ model themselves, they certainly know someone who found themselves retaking ‘Kramer v Kramer’. Those horrendous cases often included better child custody and access disputes, but the lessons learned or otherwise available in our popular culture have them justifiably ‘on the defensive.’
So that’s the description of the basic spectrum however there are plenty of hybrids and relatively unique individuals who exhibit very particular needs. Also, we have what may be politely referred to as the ‘cheerleaders who exercise albeit a caring and concerned constituency. This may be the mom and /or dad of a younger person or scarred sibling, coworkers, or more so in the case of the older spectrum, the potential areas of accumulated net worth retention strategy in estate planning.
Ongoing relationships are the heart, soul, and context of better-mediated agreements. This is our purpose and we, professional mediators seek to openly engage these diverse interests in helping to craft-wise and durable agreement across these broad and deep spectra.
We trust that this article has provided you with some useful information on Marriage and Cohabitation Agreements for further consideration. We would be pleased to schedule a complimentary session to explore how mediation may work best in your plans to engage a happy and secure future…together.
Nigel Macleod and Graeme Fraser
LL.B, AccFM (OAFM)
Adv. Pract. (ACR) (APFM)