We will do it together

Alternatives to Court Involvement

The breakdown of any relationship is a very difficult time and can lead to a lot of anxiety and uncertainty.  The prospect of court involvement will heighten the anxieties for the adults and, indeed, for any children.

We try to resolve all cases by agreement and without the need for court action where possible.  We will discuss with you the various options available and some of these have been mentioned below.  The various options apply as much to children related cases to those involving finance.

Voluntary Disclosure and Negotiation

In financial cases, we will always advise you on whether it is appropriate to propose that couples agree to exchange full details of the financial information on a voluntary basis so that negotiations can occur.  Those negotiations will sometimes occur by an exchange of letters, although we usually promote a joint ‘round table’ meeting  with a view to a fair agreement being reached.  The agreement will then need to be set out in a document known as a Financial Consent Order.  This will need to be approved by the court so that it can become final and legally binding.  Please note that the court will only be able to approve an agreement which is fair and this is where our expertise is important.

In most divorce and civil partnership cases, we will encourage couples to agree to this approach as an agreement will always be far better than one forced on them by the court.

Collaborative Law

This is another way of trying to reach an agreed outcome without involving the court.  It is a practice whereby divorcing or separating couples agree to work together as a team with their solicitors (who must be trained in this area) to try to reach a settlement without going to Court.  Each person has the guidance and support of a solicitor and will all meet on one or more occasions to discuss the issues and try to reach an agreed solution.

There are many benefits to this approach which include an agenda being prepared of the issues needing to be resolved, the outcome being for you to agree rather than being imposed by a judge and the process being far less acrimonious than court involvement.

The solicitors must actually agree not to apply to the Court and a contract known as a ‘Participation Agreement’ will be signed to confirm this.  This reflects the desire of all concerned to reach an agreed outcome if possible.  If an agreement is reached, the solicitors will prepare a legally binding Financial Consent Order to confirm the terms. 

Our Anthony Vingoe is a trained Collaborative Lawyer and an advocate of joint meetings being far better for couples than an exchange of terse letters and/or involving the court. 

Mediation

Mediation is where a couple agree to meet with an independent mediator being present to assist with discussion and with a view to an agreement being reached.  It will often involve a lot of compromise on both sides and you will hear a mediator say that you will not win or lose but come to an outcome which each person can live with going forward.  It is unusual for solicitors to attend mediation although you should take advice and guidance throughout the process. We have close links with experienced mediators and will help you to choose the right person for you.

Arbitration

This involves appointing an independent arbitrator (a bit like a private judge) who will consider the situation and then make a decision which will be legally binding.  This process is not widely used largely because it can be expensive but also because it involves one person making a legally binding decision which either may actually not want.  It may, however, be suitable for financial cases where couples are entrenched and a decision will bring an end to the situation.

We are here to help you resolve the division of financial assets and wealth.