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Can I divorce and avoid going to court?

During any separation or divorce, there will be several issues that need to be resolved, including matters related to finances, children and property. Traditionally, these would have been decided in the courtroom, but increasingly couples are choosing forms of dispute resolution which do not involve the court.

There are three main reasons why going to court might not be the best way forward:

  • Owing to the current pandemic, the family courts are experiencing unprecedented delays and according to HM Courts & Tribunals Service it could take until 2023 to return to pre-Covid levels. This means it will take many months and possibly years for your case to be heard and resolved, prolonging the resolution of issues that will allow you both to move on in your lives.
  • Seeking to resolve your issues by going through the courts is a costly experience and ultimately you have no control over the outcome – you must accept whatever the judge rules to be the way forward.
  • Going to court can be intimidating and intensifies any hostility between you and your Ex, which again, makes it difficult for you both to move on.

Thankfully, there are now alternative ways to reach an agreement on issues relating to separation and divorce, which are faster, cheaper, more flexible and hopefully more amicable. These include:

DIY Divorce – this involves both of you sitting down to negotiate and agree your own arrangements before asking a solicitor to make them legally binding. This is not ideal as you may not know your full legal rights, making your proposals legally unworkable. It also risks the process becoming expensive if your arrangements need to be put right.

Mediation – this involves couples working with a mediator, who is usually legally trained, to resolve any issues relating to property, finances and children. Agreements are drawn up into a Memorandum of Understanding, before being made legally binding by a solicitor. This is a cost-effective and relatively amicable way to resolve issues.

Collaborative Law – in this instance, both parties resolve issues face to face together with their respective lawyers. With all parties in the room, this approach saves time and money, by avoiding lengthy and costly bouts of legal correspondence.

Arbitration – this process is useful for specific issues that prove difficult to resolve or represent sticking points, such as pension rights. In this instance, a court room is set up and an independent arbiter appointed by the couple to act as a judge. The arbiter listens to both sides of the argument before passing judgement based on the evidence. Not only is this a quicker and faster process than going through the courts, but it also maintains your confidentiality in resolving issues, unlike court proceedings which are in the public domain.

As a practice, Tisshaws are committed to non-court resolution to resolve matters relating to family breakdown. Our team includes two mediators, four collaborative lawyers and we have the facilities to provide arbitration hearings.

If you are thinking about separation and divorce and would like to know how it could impact upon your specific circumstances, we offer an initial no obligation, one-hour consultation for £50 (Incl. VAT). To book an appointment, please contact 01444 472700, email info@tisshawssolicitors.co.uk or complete the form below.

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