Family Lawyer Karen Weiner explains how you can take control of your situation and try to avoid court when you are separating or getting a divorce
When your marriage breaks down or you separate from your spouse or partner there will inevitably be issues that need to be resolved. Not just the divorce but also relating to the family home or other property, business assets, custody/residence and maintenance. Hopefully you will be able to agree these issues between you but what if you can’t? Is going to court the only option?
Court and litigation should be a last resort. Not only because of the cost involved but also because it is far better for you to retain some control and decision making over the outcome than leave this to a Judge in the family court.
There are a number of alternatives you can try to reach agreement about the arrangements for the children or a financial settlement:
Mediation – Mediation is a process which allows both of you to try and agree the division of assets, maintenance or the arrangements for your children in the presence of an independent third party, known as a mediator. You can have as many sessions as you need and it can be a cost-effective way of avoiding court. However, it is only effective if both of you are willing to engage fully in the process and to compromise.
Arbitration – unlike a mediator who helps you reach an agreement, an arbitrator reaches a decision (much like a judge) for you after hearing argument from you or your legal advisers. Both of you agree at the outset to be bound by the arbitrator’s decision. The benefit of arbitration is that it is much quicker than the court process. It can be used to decide all the issues or a specific issue. Arbitration is currently only available in dealing with financial matters.
Collaborative Law – this involves a series of meetings which will be attended by you and your spouse as well as your solicitors who must each be collaboratively trained. If you are unable to reach an agreement through this process, you will both need to instruct new lawyers who will try a different method of dealing with matters.
Negotiation through solicitors – this could be through correspondence, telephone conversations between solicitors or 1 or more round table meetings attended by you both and your respective lawyers to try and reach agreement.
Whichever process you choose you should always seek advice from a solicitor beforehand so that you know what to expect. At an initial consultation I will discuss the various options with you to see which if any is the most appropriate avenue to pursue in your specific circumstances. I also review these with you again throughout the process. Of course sometimes litigation and going to court is the only option for example if your ex spouse/partner refuses to disclose their assets or is being unreasonable. If I think that’s the case I will tell you and advise you of the costs and risks to you. In this way you have all the available information to make decisions and take control of your divorce and yours and your children’s future.
At The Law House we can advise you whatever stage of the divorce process or relationship breakdown you are at.
For an initial chat or to make an appointment please email me Karen Weiner at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone me on 0208 899 6620.