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Divorce Q&A: Your questions answered

December 1, 2022

Good Divorce Week 2022 (28 Nov – 2 Dec) aims to highlight the crisis in the family courts and raise awareness of all the different ways families can resolve their disputes away from Court – where it is safe and appropriate to do so.

Overstretched family courts are facing huge backlogs, both in terms of dealing with listings and administrative tasks. Despite the best efforts of court staff, families are frequently left waiting long periods of time to sort out finances and children arrangements.

So we’ve asked our Head of Family Sara Rutter a few FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) when it comes to divorce and alternatives to Court.

Q: What is Good Divorce Week?

“Resolution runs Good Divorce Week each year and this year the focus is on highlighting the crisis of the Family Courts and raising awareness of the different ways families can resolve their disputes away from Court.

“Resolution is an organisation that represents over 6,500 family professionals, which helps people find a better way to divorce.”

Q: What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) covers the various options couples can opt for to avoid having to go through the family courts. The most common options include collaborative divorce, mediation, and arbitration.

“Given the delays and cost of Court proceedings, not to mention the stress and emotional cost, we believe the court route should only be considered as a last resort.

“Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) can often involve solicitor led negotiations which can be held as a round table meeting. Not all cases are suitable for ADR though. A high conflict divorce or separation can negatively impact children.

“We can craft bespoke solutions for our clients reaching outcomes that might not have been considered by other Lawyers. We believe in advising you on all of your options – there are more than you might think when it comes to avoiding a traditional Court process.”

Q: When is Mediation or an alternative form of ADR unsuitable?

“Whilst other forms of ADR are an excellent way of resolving many family law disputes, there are some scenarios where it is not suitable. 

“In cases where there are concerns about harm, physical or mental abuse, a significant imbalance of power in the relationship.”

Q: If Mediation is opted for, who pays?

“You may qualify for publicly funded support to help the mediation costs where there are issues in relation to the children. Whilst there have been significant cuts to this in recent years it is still available. 

“You can check if you are eligible online using the eligibility calculator on the website.  The Government is currently investing in family mediations to support families to resolve issues relating to children. Under the Government Scheme the Ministry of Justice are providing contributions of up to £500 per family towards mediation costs to resolve issues relating to children following parental separation. Mediation under the voucher scheme is provided by Family Mediation Council Accredited Mediators. 

“Another option is co-mediation and this is where you have the expertise of two Mediators or perhaps a Mediator and another professional which could include a Therapist, Financial Advisor, Actuary, Accountants or Tax Specialist rather than the traditional approach of just one Mediator.”

Q: What are the benefits of co-mediation?

“On the face of it, two Experts may appear more costly than one but this is not always the case.  This is because having the expertise of two Mediators can cut through the issues faster by creating balance in the room and ensuring both parties are fully supported. 

“There are therefore many advantages of co-mediation when deciding which approach is the most appropriate for your individual circumstances.

“As with most things in life, no one size fits all and the same can be said when considering alternative routes for ADR.”

Q: What other considerations should I have?

“Divorce Coaching. The breakdown of a relationship often brings about a monumental life change.  There are endless challenges to overcome and complex decisions to be made.  Divorce Coaching can provide a holistic approach to issues that arise and can equip both parties with the tools that they need to make informed choices and move forward with strength and confidence.

“Counselling may also be a consideration. We understand there may be many complex emotions you experience during the course of your family law matter whether it is divorce or dissolution or a dispute involving your children and to assist we can recommend qualified counsellors.”

If you would like an appointment with one of our Solicitors at Walker Foster then please contact your nearest office or get in touch via our website.

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