InsightsInsight - Family and Divorce - POSTED: November 28 2022
Keeping divorce out of the courts
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This year, Good Divorce Week 2022 raises the question, can there really be a ‘good divorce’? This article explores the benefits of keeping divorce out of the court system, for financial and time saving reasons, as a way to make the divorce as ‘good’ as possible, given the already stressful and emotional circumstances.
What are the benefits of keeping divorce out of the courts?
At an already difficult time for those going through a marriage breakdown, the cost of divorce can also be a huge cause for concern. Throughout the duration of a marriage, a couple will amass assets such as the family home and vehicles. Upon divorce, these will need to be divided fairly, on a 50/50 basis or an unequal basis in order to meet the needs of the parties. If a settlement is not agreed between the parties, the cost of using the court process can be incredibly expensive. The best solution is to work proactively to negotiate a divorce settlement together, although this can be easier said than done. If parties are amicable, then this is often the quickest and most cost-effective form of resolving divorce/financial matters. However, if communication is difficult then negotiation and discussions can be more challenging. In the long run, keeping your divorce out of the courts, and working on negotiations to reach a settlement, will provide often huge financial savings.
Most couples want a quick divorce, and the court process does not allow for this. Through the court system, a divorce can take from six months to over a year, with a three-stage process that needs to be followed: a ‘first directions appointment’, a ‘financial dispute resolution hearing’, and lastly a ‘final hearing’. The final hearing is when a Judge will make a decision as to the division of a couples finances/assets if the couple have been unable to do so. The quickest way of resolving financial matters in a divorce is through out-of-court processes, such as mediation or collaborative law. The effectiveness of out-of-court processes will depend on both parties’ willingness to co-operate and negotiate with the other and the skill of the mediator or collaborative lawyers involved.
In addition to potential cost savings, another benefit of keeping divorce out of the courts is retaining amicable relationships between the parties. The court system can inflame hostility and polarise the separating individuals. At an already emotional and stressful time, adding adversarial court proceedings can significantly worsen relationships.
How can we keep our divorce proceedings out of the courts?
The UK divorce process was previously fault-based, meaning one of the parties had to be at fault or the parties had to be separated for more than two years. This tended to increase hostility, as one party bore the ‘blame’ for the divorce. In April 2022, the divorce process changed to introduce ‘no fault divorce’, meaning fault is no longer needed. This has helped all involved manage any acrimony better from the outset due to the removal of unnecessary tension between the parties and the need for the ‘blame game’. Parties are in a better place to consider out of court processes to resolve the other issues they have on separation.
There are several dispute resolution methods other than going to court which can be used to settle arrangements on separation. These include:
- Mediation – a negotiation between the parties that is aided by a neutral third party, who facilitates the discussions.
- Collaborative Law – the parties work together with collaboratively trained lawyers to reach an agreement. Negotiations are conducted through face-to-face meetings that both parties attend with their lawyers. The lawyer’s role is to support the couple to come to arrangements agreed between them not to argue between themselves.
- Arbitration/Early Neutral Evaluation/Private FDRs – the parties appoint an arbitrator (a qualified individual) to make a decision on their dispute as a judge would in court if they have been unable to agree in any other way.
Our family lawyers help clients to resolve their disputes through agreement using the most appropriate dispute resolution methods, such as mediation and collaborative law or if required, we will support you through the court process. Our experienced team includes a trained mediator with 25 years’ experience and three collaboratively trained lawyers.
Contact us for divorce advice
If you need a divorce solicitor, our experienced family law team offer an initial fixed fee meeting at £180. They can discuss with you how to get a divorce, how to approach your own divorce situation and the various pathways available to settle your finances. Book your online appointment today or get started with our no-obligation online questionnaire to provide us with all the information we need to advise you on your own situation. Alternatively, fill out our contact form or call us on 01622 690691.
This content is correct at time of publication
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