Making the decision to end a relationship can be life changing. If you are married, have children, or own a property together, alongside the emotional aspects there are practical decisions to make.
One of the most important considerations will be which process may work best for your family.
There are a range of options which your lawyer will discuss with you. These include:
A mediator is an impartial third party. If you chose to enter into mediation you may have one or a series of meetings with your ex-partner and the mediator. Their role is to facilitate the discussions between you and help you reach a settlement which works for you and your family. It is often the case that either or both of you will retain your own solicitor to provide you with legal advice in the background.
2. Collaborative law
The collaborative process also relies on having one or more meetings directly with your previous partner, however there are two key differences:
a) You will also have a lawyer present with you in the meetings;
b) Both you and your ex-partner must make a formal commitment to resolving your dispute within the process, and therefore not to go to court. If your position changes then you need to instruct an alternative lawyer.
3. Court process
Issuing an application at court sets in train the series of hearings which may last up to a year. There is every opportunity to settle within this process, and only a small proportion of cases go the whole way to a Final Hearing.
Most financial cases settle at the mid-way point, known as the Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing (FDR). This is a mediation style hearing at which a District Judge will give an indication as to what he/she thinks is the appropriate outcome in your case. This indication is then used to negotiate. Court proceedings can be costly, however are sometimes the only way of cutting through an intractable dispute.
There are now a number of barristers (many of whom are part-time District Judges) who will act as Judges and conduct private FDRs. This gives you the advantage of being able to select the right person for your case and have a full day of that Judge’s time on a convenient date.
Arbitration has been widely used in commercial disputes and has now become an option for family lawyers in disputes about money or children. You have the ability to choose your own arbitrator (who acts as a judge) and to some extent dictate the timing. The arbitrator will hear evidence and then make a binding decision, which can then be enshrined in a court order.
This is a new process, and it is not one that all solicitors have fully embraced. Both parties need to agree in order to enter into arbitration.
6. Solicitor-led negotiation
This is probably the most common route adopted whereby negotiations take place in correspondence. If both parties instruct a sensible solicitor and take a pragmatic approach this can often be a cost-effective way of reaching a resolution.
At Jones Nickolds we have an expert team and are able to adopt all of the above methods. If you would like to know any further details, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0203 405 2300.