The preconceptions around family court are numerous. When it comes to what happens in a courtroom, popular TV shows and countless films have done a wonderful job of evoking a sense of drama, but have done nothing to dispel myths or allay fears.
This week, we’re taking the opportunity to debunk some common myths about the family law court, and what you can really expect.
Myth 1: Going to court costs a fortune.
Probably the most common misconception about family court is that it costs a lot of money. Whilst there’s no getting away from the fact that there’ll be a level of expense, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to cost the earth.
The reality is that the cost of going to family court will depend entirely on the nature of your matter. In some circumstances, it may save you both time and money. For someone divorcing a narcissistic spouse for example, where there’s no cooperation or opportunity for fruitful discussion, seeking the assistance of the court may be the most efficient and cost-effective way of getting things done.
Myth 2: Once I go to court, there’s no going back.
A lot of people assume that putting their matter before the court means that this is the final destination, but this isn’t always the case. There is still lots of time within the court process to try to reach an agreement with your spouse. It is rare for a Judge to have to make a final decision about who gets what.
It doesn’t rule out other forms of negotiation. Arbitration, mediation, round table meetings – these are just some of the options still open to you at any point during proceedings.
Myth 3: You’ll have to give evidence and/or speak at court.
For many people, the thought of having to speak at court is a source of real fear and anxiety. However, it’s your lawyer’s job to do the talking and it is rare that you would have to speak.
Of course, depending on your matter, there may come a point where you do need to give evidence, or a time when the judge asks you a question directly. And that’s why we always make sure that our clients are fully prepared for that eventuality and have all of the support they need every step of the way.
Myth 4: You can get divorced in a matter of weeks.
There’s a common misconception around the notion of the ‘quickie divorce’. But the reality is quite different. When it comes to the divorce process, there’s a structure to follow which includes a number of necessary steps. For example, you must allow for at least six weeks and one day (43 days) between your Decree Nisi (the document stating that the court is satisfied that there’s no reason why you cannot divorce) being granted, and making the application for the Decree Absolute (the document that formally ends your marriage). Cutting corners simply isn’t an available option.
There may be other matters to be resolved, too. Including arrangements for the children and financial settlements. If this is the case, you’ll need to be prepared for your divorce to take in the region of 12 months. Some are quicker and some can take longer.
Myth 5: You should do everything possible to avoid going to court.
Whilst going to court is something you might not be relishing the idea of, there are times when it’s far more of a help than a hindrance. With the right solicitor in your corner, putting your matter before the court can be the best way to get a fair outcome, and the one you deserve for the future.
It can be helpful to think of court proceedings as an anchor, the thing that provides a level of stability and security in very uncertain times, and something that can be worked flexibly around.
At Harrogate Family Law, we can give you the expert legal support you need, whether your case goes to court or not. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help.