Couples going through a separation often fear the worst; lengthy court proceedings that result in nothing but upset and extortionate legal costs. However, in reality very few of our clients go down this route.
Most cases we deal with are resolved by us coming up with a solution which is agreed by everyone involved. Also, in recent years, there has been a shift towards the use of alternative methods of resolving family issues. Clients often think that means ‘relationship counselling’ but it does not. It means solving issues that have arisen following a separation, such as the division of finances or arrangements for children, but without a court battle. These methods are often referred to as “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR) and include mediation, collaborative law and arbitration. None are compulsory, and each is very different. We help to choose which approach is right for the family concerned. All can be very effective, saving huge cost and upset and producing a better result than the court would impose.
Perhaps one reason for this shift is that, following a recent change to the rules, couples are required to consider mediation and other ADR options before resorting to court proceedings. Only exceptional cases, such as those involving domestic violence or abuse, or which are very urgent, are exempt from the requirement.
Even if a case does result in an application to court, it does not mean a bitter fight to the end. Cases can usually be settled by agreement at any stage and it is still possible to negotiate and simply have the court proceedings there as a ‘back up’ if an agreement cannot be reached.
Our family team are members of Resolution, an organisation whose principles encourage a non-confrontational approach to family matters. Essentially, it means that we try to avoid aggravating what is already a difficult situation for all concerned.
Please click here for more information on the various types of ADR. If you would like advice on your options following a separation, please do contact our Family Department on 01730 268211, or Emily Bull at Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org.