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How to Get Divorced without using the Court

February 22, 2023

Our expert, Sarah Power from Chadwick Lawrence LLP offers some helpful advice on how you can use dispute resolution to assist in the event of a divorce.

Although an application for Divorce has to be submitted to the court, there are numerous other ways to resolve other matters arising from your separation.  Other methods are also generally faster, more cost-effective, and can help to avoid conflict.

Couples can sometimes agree on issues such as the division of property and assets and new arrangements for children between themselves when they separate. Where this is proving difficult, however, options include mediation, collaborative law, and arbitration.

Once an agreement has been reached, it will still be necessary to put this before the court to be approved by a Judge and sealed into a legally binding order, but this is much quicker than asking the court to rule on issues, particularly if the legal system is dealing with a backlog which can often be the case.

Mediation in family law

Mediation is a negotiation that takes place with a trained mediator who will help you and your partner to discuss issues and who can provide general legal information. The courts usually require couples to at least consider mediation before they can ask for a legal decision unless the relationship is abusive.

Mediation can be used for both issues concerning children and for financial and property matters. It is a confidential process and the discussions you have will not usually form part of court proceedings if these are necessary later on.

Collaborative law

The collaborative law process involves you and your spouse appointing a collaborative lawyer each to represent you in face-to-face negotiations. You will have meetings both with your lawyer and four-way meetings with your former partner and their lawyer as well.

You will be able to put forward your views and what you want to achieve and your lawyers will work with you both to try and achieve an acceptable agreement.

Arbitration in Divorce

Arbitration can be thought of as a private divorce, with a judge that is paid for by you and your spouse. You can select an independent expert who is appropriate for your needs. Arbitrators are usually former solicitors, barristers or judges.

The arbitrator will hear your case in a similar way to a court and make a decision that you agree in advance to be bound by.

You can ask the arbitrator to decide on one issue alone if you wish and you can set the schedule yourself, meaning it is often much quicker than waiting for a court date.

These methods are types of alternative dispute resolution. They are more flexible than court and you can often set your own timetable and proceed at the right speed for you. They can also be more predictable than court, where a hearing could be called off at the last moment, even if everyone is prepared.

In mediation and collaborative law, you can be sure that you will not end up with an outcome that you do not want, such as could be imposed on you by the courts.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert family lawyers about any family law matter, ring us on 0800 015 0340 or email us at family@chadlaw.co.uk to arrange a free initial half-hour appointment.

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