It is often the case that when people separate although they might not be able to agree on how to move forward, they do not want to fight. As a solicitor specialising in divorce in Sheffield I often get enquiries from people who want advice but are worried that involving a solicitor will result in an expensive fight.
This is simply not the case. The job of a solicitor is to provide advice suited to your needs and guide you through legal processes as easily as possible. As a member of Resolution, I follow a code of conduct to help people resolve their issues in a non confrontational manner. The strengths of your case can be presented without the need for a fight.
The laws that surround divorce in England and Wales do not always help people to see things in an amicable way. There is no option to divorce on an amicable basis. Someone often has to be blamed for the marriage breakdown unless the parties to the marriage have been separated for over 2 years. This can sometimes cause conflict especially as most divorces have to be started on the basis of unreasonable behaviour that one person finds intolerable to live with. If people are advised properly, this conflict can be avoided. Agreement can be reached about who is going to petition, what is going to be said and how the cost is going to be apportioned. It is good practice for both parties to see and agree to the content of a divorce petition before it is issued.
Even with agreement, getting divorced is often one of the most stressful experiences people go through in their lives. Fighting does not help. If there is a fight for the sake of it, then a stranger in the form of a Judge will make decisions and there is no way of knowing what outcome may be achieved and what order may be made. Most people want to avoid this and arrive at an outcome that suits them.
In family law today, options such as mediation, round table meetings, direct negotiations and collaborative law can be used to achieve a result that is the best possible outcome in the circumstances.
Mediation is a service that your solicitor can make a referral to. You attend a meeting either together or separately to define the issues that need to be discussed. Mediation usually takes place over the course of a few meetings and once an outcome is agreed, the mediator prepares a memorandum of understanding. This document is sent to your solicitor who can advise you about the content and whether any formal orders need to be prepared. Mediation takes place without your solicitor present. From April 2014, attendance at an initial mediation information and assessment meeting was made compulsory prior to any court application being started. Whilst there is a charge for mediation, this is significantly less than the cost of a court application and legal aid is still available for mediation depending on a persons financial circumstances.
Solicitors also resolve many cases by negotiation and if necessary by the use of a round table meeting. These meetings are useful where most issues are agreed or nearly agreed and by sitting and discussing matters with both solicitors, a final resolution can be brought. This saves time and cost. The meetings can take place with everyone in the same room or in separate rooms with the solicitors going in between. The meetings save on letters being sent back and forth, help everyone to adopt a pragmatic approach and help you to keep control of the process.
It is inevitable that not every case can be settled by the above methods. Sometimes an application to court becomes necessary. Even then, there does not need to be a fight. A court timetable can be very helpful to focus people’s minds, provide a clear structure and allow sensible negotiations and discussions to take place with the assistance of a Judge and potentially other experts.
The more amicable you are, the less it is likely to cost and the more likely it is that you will obtain an outcome that suits you and your family. Although in the midst of divorce emotions can run high, in time those feelings will subside and certainly where children are involved, if people can remain amicable it is the best outcome for all concerned.
Emma Hubbard is a solicitor specialising in Family Law. She is based at our Sheffield office and can be contacted on 07889648497 or email@example.com. For our other regional offices please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.