If you are in a position now, or in the future, where your relationship has broken down and divorce is the only option, it is possible to take control of the process to secure the best possible outcome for you and your family.
It is a common misconception that divorce can only be settled in court but there are actually a number of ways to deal with your divorce depending on your situation. We’ve outlined some of those options below:
Traditional negotiation is the most common form of dispute resolution in divorce cases. This can involve joint meetings between parties and their respective solicitors, as well as the exchange of correspondence between the solicitors involved. This is all undertaken with a view to resolving the dispute as efficiently as possible. Negotiation allows you to maintain an element of control over the separation process, rather than leaving this to a judge who does not know either party involved, or the children of the relationship.
Parties are often referred to mediation as part of the separation process, particularly where there are child related issues. If communication with the other party has deteriorated, mediation provides a forum in which concerns can be raised in the presence of a neutral third party. The process is completely confidential. Mediation can be carried out by an accredited mediator who may, or may not be a lawyer.
The Collaborative process can also be used to resolve matters arising from the breakdown in a relationship. This concept was imported from the USA. The separating couple and their solicitors sign up to an agreement at the outset in which they undertake to be open, honest and make full disclosure. They also agree not to litigate with those solicitors. If you choose the Collaborative process and it is is unsuccessful, you would require to instruct another solicitor to litigate on your behalf. Only those solicitors who are Collaboratively trained can participate in this process.
Arbitration is another method by which disputes that arise when a relationship breaks down can be resolved. Parties can appoint a family law arbitrator (essentially a private judge) who will resolve their dispute. You can arrange a mutually convenient time and place for arbitration to take place. The process is also confidential, and is generally quicker than the court process. The decision which ismade by the arbitrator is legally binding on the parties.
It is a commonly held view that divorce lawyers spend most of their time in court, fighting battles at significant expense to their clients. Whilst in certain circumstances it is necessary to litigate, if parties can resolve matters outwith the court process, this is encouraged. Litigation is generally seen as the last resort.