Louise Cannell-Mirza, Solicitor in the Family law team at Ward Hadaway, looks at the various pathways to separation which couples can take.
The breakdown of a relationship is hard enough – the task of formalising the ending of the relationship, resolving the marital finances and/or the care arrangements for the children does not have to be as traumatic.
At Ward Hadaway we promote and advise on a wide range of options available to separating couples so clients do not have to become embroiled in contentious court proceedings.
Mediation is discussed in all cases, not only in terms of trying to save relationships, but to also help the parties navigate towards a settlement of the marital finances and any disputes regarding children.
Mediation is a forum in which both parties will come together in a neutral environment with a trained mediator to negotiate towards agreement. The mediator is impartial but fully trained and able to guide parties towards an agreement that works for everyone.
This is a process whereby parties come together with their lawyers, to reach agreements outside of the court forum.
It can be used effectively to allow parties to discuss and agree legal and practical matters arising from their separation, retaining control over the outcome and timescales.
It also helps enable a relationship to be maintained afterwards especially if parties have children.
Both parties are represented by specially trained lawyers who will work with parties and each other towards an amicable agreement.
This involves a series of meetings between lawyers and parties who all sign a participation agreement confirming their commitment to resolving matters without going to Court.
Arbitration is increasingly used in financial disputes and, as of July 2016, can be used in disputes regarding children. This involves both parties agreeing to refer matters to an independent arbitrator to make a decision that is both final and binding.
Arbitration comes with a great deal of flexibility and less formality than court proceedings.
Parties can choose the arbitrator to appoint along with the date and venue for the arbitration hearing. This enables issues to be resolved more quickly and can be less costly than court proceedings.
Some cases do require court intervention, however, at Ward Hadaway we remain committed to working with clients to consider all options and choosing a bespoke pathway towards effective and efficient resolution of family disputes.