For most people, the prospect of making an appearance at any type of Court, is quite frankly, terrifying. This is very true in family law disputes as nobody wants the finer details of their family life, be it child or finance related, subjected to detailed analysis in a courtroom which has a number of legal formalities attached to it.
The outcome of your matter is largely out of your control once it’s brought into the Court arena. You and your legal representative can simply put forward a constructive argument in support of your case. The other side will do the same. The outcome will then be in the hands of either the magistrates or a judge and this will be dependent on what they, objectively, deem to be fair and reasonable or, what they believe to be in your child’s ‘best interests’ when determining children law cases.
As such, the Court process can be an uncertain and expensive forum to resolve your matter. This is why a good family solicitor will assist you in resolving your matter in other ways and will advise you to bring the matter into Court, only as a last resort.
Some of the alternative dispute resolution methods available in family law, include the following;
A mediator will meet with you and your partner with a view of assisting in narrowing the key issues between you that are stopping you from being able to reach an agreement. They remain independent at all times and will encourage you to discuss any potential agreement reached with each of your legal representatives. They will end the session if they are of the view that mediation is unsuitable or has broken down. The agreements reached at mediation are not legally binding upon you but can be drawn into a legal document after the session(s) conclude, if required. Mediation is a pre requisite to Court action in family law cases.
This is an informal process in which you and your partner instruct solicitors to negotiate an agreement on your behalf. This can be done on a face to face basis with a meeting that’s typically referred to as a ’round table meeting’ or alternative can be done via letters/emails. Once a settlement/agreement has been reached, it is then usually drafted as a legal document and signed by both parties.
You and your partner would need to appoint a collaborative family solicitor on the basis that they will assist you only in negotiating a settlement. If negotiations break down, you would need to appoint a different solicitor in moving your case forward as the collaborative lawyers would not be able to assist in the continuing litigation. Under this process, you each agree that a Court application will not be made unless everybody approves it as the only way forward. Under this process, all negotiations are done on a face to face basis between you, your partner and your collaborative lawyers. All advice is given in an open manner and any agreement reached is legally binding.
This is a forum which has some similarities to the Court process. You and your partner can agree to appoint a family arbitrator who will listen to each of your perspectives, on paper and in person, before reaching a decision on what they view as a fair outcome. The arbitrator’s decision is legally binding and recognised by the Court.
Inevitably there will be times when an agreement cannot be reached through use of these alternative methods. You might also feel that some of them are not suitable to your circumstances. In such situations, a Court application will have to be made.
For more advice on any of the ways in which you can resolve your family law issues, please contact our Mrs Nia Thomas on 01267 239194 for a free 30 minute consultation.