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Divorce court: advice on avoiding court in divorce proceedings

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Tips for avoiding divorce court.

Divorce doesn’t have to go to court, but unless you and your partner are willing to talk, to negotiate and to settle that’s exactly where your family dispute will end up.

Top tips for avoiding the divorce courts

When your relationship breaks down not only are you dealing with the emotional fallout but you almost always have to face up to some major life changes such as where you are going to live, where the children are going to live and how your finances are going to look going forward.

In my experience it’s only a very few who actually want their “day in court” and even less people want this as it becomes clear how much it is going to cost, both financially and emotionally. 

Here are my top tips for avoiding court in divorce proceedings:

  1. Try and keep talking to each other if possible. If you don’t set up “camps” from the start you will avoid becoming entrenched before you have even started.
  2. Limit how much you ask your friends and family for advice. We don’t have formulas for dealing with divorce and separation and every case turns on its own merits. What happened to your friend’s sister with her divorce may be irrelevant to your circumstances.
  3. Think about going to family mediation right at the start. This is your chance to take control of how you want to manage your separation.
  4. Do get some initial advice from an expert family lawyer. This should be fairly general advice at the start, so that you know all the things you need to think about and the range of options for dealing with finances and children.
  5. Know that the family courts will not spend time on who is to blame for the breakdown of the relationship and their only focus will be to ensure that you can all move forward and in particular that the needs of your children are met. Please don’t go to court believing that your ex will be punished for his or her behaviour during your relationship because this is not going to happen.
  6. Think about what is most important to you and concentrate on this rather than worrying about exact percentage splits.
  7. Even if you are going to mediation or negotiating directly with your ex, make sure you continue to have expert legal advice while you are doing this. Your family lawyer can also help you with the formal paperwork once you have reached an agreement.

I am committed to keeping my clients outside of court if at all possible. Giving sensible advice and offering creative solutions to reduce the fall-out from separation is key to this. But so is the behaviour of the parties in a divorce, there has to be a willingness to reach agreement by both sides. Of course, in some instances intransigent positions mean the only way to settle the dispute is to ask a judge for their ruling, in that case it’s even more important to have advice from a family law specialist so that you prepare your case to get the best possible result.

Kate Brooks
Divorce & family solicitor, Market Harborough

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