No matter how bitter the divorce, few people want to have their future decided by the courts unless it is absolutely necessary and there are a number of ways to avoid going to court.
Although there are many similar issues that come up time and again when we are advising clients, no two cases are ever exactly the same and the approach that suits one couple may not suit another. That’s why we discuss a range of different approaches and advise on the best way forward according to the circumstances of each family. The steps you take in the early stages of your divorce can also have an impact on how smooth the process is. Read our article 5 things you need to know before you divorce.
Is mediation an option?
A mediator is trained to help the couple explore what is important to each of them and try to help them find a solution which they are both comfortable with. This can be really effective if both have a willingness to try to find a compromise. It is recommended that a family lawyer advises alongside the mediation process so that the agreement is workable and meets the needs of both parties.
What if I’d rather not negotiate over money with my spouse directly?
Many people still prefer to have their lawyers negotiate the terms of the settlement so that they don’t have to talk money with their husband or wife and they can concentrate on helping the children cope with the separation. We will help you through the process of exchanging financial information and then discuss the possible ways in which the property, money, income and pensions can be divided so that we can put forward proposals for settlement. We can do this through letters and emails, phone calls with the other lawyer and sometimes having a meeting with the lawyers and husband and wife so that we can discuss it all together. It depends on what works for each individual client.
I have heard of Collaborative Family Law – what is this?
With Collaborative Law, discussions are within four way meetings with the husband and wife and their collaboratively trained lawyers. Each spouse instructs a Collaboratively trained lawyer, such as Andrew Meehan at Harrogate Family Law, and enters into a Collaborative Agreement about the process. It is a very constructive process where both the husband and wife retain a high degree of control over what is discussed and how the matter is resolved. Those that go through this process usually come out the other side feeling very positive and able to work well with their husband and wife. It is not for everyone because if an agreement cannot be reached and court proceedings are required, they each have to start again and instruct different lawyers.
What if we can’t agree?
If you cannot agree and prefer not to go to court an arbitrator can be appointed. The arbitrator’s decision will be final and binding. It is also possible to use arbitration to deal with just a single issue if everything else is agreed. Both parties have to agree to the appointment of the arbitrator and the arbitrators fees have to be met by the parties. However, it can be much quicker and more focussed than court proceedings and therefore more cost efficient overall.