Divorce doesn’t have to be a battle

Divorce|December 5th 2017

Yes, there are amicable splits, but getting divorced is normally a very difficult time for everyone involved. Flashpoints and rows flare daily between two people who were once at their happiest in each other’s company, and the emotional toll can take years to recover from.

The very nature of divorce appears to be combative. As the law stands, if you want a divorce without waiting two years you can only demonstrate the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage by assigning blame. This can take the form of unreasonable behaviour, adultery or desertion.

So is an expensive, drawn-out and bitter blame game the only way to get through a divorce? No. There are actually less confrontational and less costly ways to bring your marriage to an end.

More amicable solutions could help you avoid a lengthy court battle. An expert family lawyer will be able to help draw up a fair agreement between you and your ex and then get it approved for you by the family court. Experience in negotiating such agreements is an important skill for a family solicitor as these waters can be choppy ones.

Mediation could be for you if you and your spouse are willing to talk calmly and rationally, with the assistance of the mediator, about the best result for you both – and crucially, any children you may have.

Another option is arbitration. Like mediation it is an alternative to the court room but there are some crucial differences: it has legal force and must be conducted by a legally qualified professional. Also, while you do have to pay for the services of an arbitrator the process is usually much faster than waiting months for a court hearing.

Collaborative family law is an additional alternative to court. Like mediation it is a process which helps the parties to reach a settlement through discussion. Both participating parties have their own solicitor who has been trained how to work collaboratively with the other solicitor and with both parties. The collaborative process enables the parties to prioritise their own aims and goals rather than be caught up in a legal process which can encourage them to become positional and adversarial. The couple and their solicitors agree to work towards a mutually beneficial resolution and not to pursue court action.

With the focus firmly on direct communication and respecting the views of both parties, the collaborative approach can help keep the relationship between the couple on good terms and avoid unnecessary acrimony. If they have children this is so important.

Collaborative law has a high success rate, can take less time and costs less than a drawn-out courtroom clash. The resulting agreements can be made into court orders but the parties will not need to seek separate legal advice after a understanding has been reached because unlike mediation their lawyers have been with them throughout and have played a full role in constructing the settlement.

An amicable split is possible if you and your former partner are willing to approach the end of your marriage calmly and rationally: something that is often easier said than done, of course! But particularly if you have children, an at least partially positive relationship  with your ex can make a world of difference.

When choosing solicitor, look for one with the right kind of experience and the resources to help you end your marriage in the most cost-effective and level-headed way possible.

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  1. Helen Dudden says:

    A well written article.

  2. Andrew says:

    When divorce is a battle it is usually because of money or children or both. When it is about children battles may be unavoidable but money need not be. What is needed is certainty, fairness, and respect for the personal autonomy of adults:
    1. Recognise and enforce prenups. No nonsense about considering whether it is fair: the fact of it being agreed answers that question.
    2. Otherwise divide up the significant assets – including pension rights but not future inheritances – fifty/fifty. No spousal maintenance in any case.
    3. If the spouses cannot agree on how the division is to work, the court will have to decide. But apply Part 36 to discourage greed and litigation a l’outrance.
    4. Postpone the effects of paras 1-3 if necessary to prevent excessive hardship to the children of the parties until the end of secondary education – and no longer.
    5. And a three-year limitation on claims, to run from decree nisi; the only exception being when service of the petition was dispensed with.
    It’s not difficult; it just takes courage.

  3. Carol Gordon Ekster says:

    Great post. So important to encourage parents to be civil, especially for the children. I was a 4th grade teacher for 35 years and felt children’s pain from divorce. I am the author of the book, Where Am I Sleeping Tonight?(A Story of Divorce) Boulden Publishing, 2008. It is the only children’s fiction storybook about shared custody for the elementary school-aged child. I believe books are an important resource at this difficult time for a family. The book was a finalist for About.com’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2012 for the best book for single-parent families. Here is the link to the publisher’s page, bouldenpublishing.com/products/Details.aspx?p=12288 showing the book. This publisher specifically publishes resources to help school counselors who can help children and families through this painful period.

  4. Andrew says:

    Well plugged, Carol!

  5. David says:

    Divorce is a complex legal process. So don’t make decisions out of anger or heightened emotions such as during an argument with your spouse. And if your already sure with your feelings and decisions, try to undergo counseling and mediation with your spouse. Thereafter, you can analyze if divorce is really the best option. If that happens, call a divorce lawyer immediately.

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