Separation can be a daunting process. Even more so when there are decisions to be made about finances and future arrangements for children. But Court proceedings aren’t the only route...
The alternatives to Court
Many people think protracted Court proceedings are the only way to reach a settlement, but that’s not always the case. It’s a financially and emotionally expensive route to go down, and has an inherent risk - there’s no guarantee it will go in your favour.
There are many cost effective and easy ways to make those all-important decisions and agree on what’s best for you and your family outside of the Courts.
The collaborative route
The collaborative process is used to resolve financial issues and involves you and your former partner each appointing a collaboratively trained lawyer to assist you throughout the process.
To begin with, you and your former partner will each separately meet your appointed collaborative lawyers and discuss what matters you’d like to resolve. Your legal representatives will then arrange a mutually convenient time for you all to meet and discuss the best way forward. These meetings are usually referred to as ‘round table meetings’ or ‘four-way meetings’.
At the start of the process, you and your former partner and your respective representatives, will all sign an agreement to show you’re all willing to commit to coming to an agreement without the need for Court. During the meetings, you’ll discuss each of your concerns and your representatives will advise on how best to come to an agreement that works for both of you.
Once an agreement has been made, a document detailing the agreement will be drawn up and signed by all parties. Your representative will then discuss what else needs to be done in order to implement the agreement.
One downside is that if the collaborative process breaks down and Court proceedings start, your collaborative lawyer won’t be able to represent you, so you’d need to appoint a new solicitor.
The mediation route
Mediation is a process which involves you and your former partner meeting with a trained mediator to discuss your issues around the separation, including your finances and children.
Your solicitor can refer you to a mediator or you can find one yourself. Before the process starts, the mediator will meet with both you and your former partner to make sure that mediation is the right choice for you.
Mediators are non-biased during the meetings and can’t give you advice, however they can help you to come to an agreement on any issues you have. The key to mediation is communication and compromise.
Once the process is finished and an agreement has been reached, your mediator will draft this into a Memorandum of Understanding. Your solicitor can then use this to make the agreement you’ve reached legally binding.
The arbitration route
Arbitration is for financial matters. It’s similar to the Court process, but it’s often a faster and more cost-effective approach. You’ll be able to choose your arbitrator who will look at both you and your former partner’s positions, plus any evidence such as financial information. Depending on the case itself, there may be a need to have a preliminary or Final Hearing, but it’s possible for these to be dealt with on paper, rather than a face-to-face hearing.
After a decision has been reached, the arbitrator will give a ruling called an award, which will be binding.
During the arbitration process, you can still be represented by your solicitor who will support you throughout the process.
We’re great Advocates of Alternative Dispute Resolution and will always try and assist you in finding the most cost effective method of resolution. Please contact our family team to discuss your options on 01908 660966 or 01604 828282 for a confidential conversation on how we can help..
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