08th Nov 2022

Divorce & Separation: Which Process is Best for Me?

By James Pirrie

Divorce & Separation: Which Process is Best for Me?

We get it! When you approach a lawyer to discuss divorce or separation, the choice of process alternatives is mesmerising. So which process is it best to use?Given all the difficulty in choosing the right way forward (and how crucial it will feel that you get it right), it is easy to end up not selecting an alternative at all.

The problem with that particular approach is that the default in family law (which is having a judge decide) is probably the worst of all worlds:

  • going through the courts is one of the slowest ways forward – even in 2019, it was taking two years in London to get to the court based settlement meeting and three years to a final hearing in financial matters… and things have slowed further since then;
  • it is also (inevitably with all of those professional weeks to fill!) the most expensive way to find solutions;
  • the adversarial process will often make for a brutal process as you receive presentations and assertions that seem to have nothing to do with the history or the realities of your relationship and future; and
  • your choices and preferences may well be given least recognition in the court’s process: judges apply an external system of principles and values: little wonder that your voice is more likely to be lost in the mix.

These downsides speak as loudly to each of you and your ex: you each have an interest in getting into the process that will generate a fair outcome, efficiently and kindly and which makes the best of the situation, with each of you feeling you’ve been heard and respected.

There isn’t one perfect way that works best in every situation. If there were, the choice proliferation would not have happened.  But at FLiP we believe we have kept at the leading edge of these options either by creating them or helping to develop them.  Your task is to be clear about your worries and the challenges you think you will face in getting to a conclusion.  Our task is to hear them and to help you to work out your best way forward.

It may feel as though you are facing a stream of “no”s from your partner until hell freezes over.  And yes, that is sometimes the case for some people.  However, if you close your eyes and think things through, you might then start to spot something else, the thing that could enable you to start to unlock progress. For example, around financial questions is it that one of you:

  • just doesn’t know – or trust – the scale/ limits to the resources?
  • hasn’t been able to formulate a future within the parameters of what’s possible – has no sense of the options to begin to choose between them?
  • has stepped out of financial decision making for years and taking back responsibility for managing the household feels daunting?
  • is just too upset about all that has gone on to make any decisions at this time?
  • thinks they’re not being listened to – whilst the other tries to railroad a solution?
  • doesn’t feel safe?
  • is being offered only solutions that fall far short of their sense of their entitlements?

Many situations will involve some or all of the above, but often there is one element in particular that forms the core to what may feel now like a gordian knot – and knowing that will help us to help you to assemble the team that will find the way forward with the greatest chance of success.

And yes, sometimes these and other considerations may mean that you need to start by using the court system:

  • perhaps for protective injunctions
  • perhaps to secure timetabling that the other side cannot ignore
  • or it may be, simply to show that you are serious.

But for most situations the court does not ultimately provide better answers or a better way of securing them, save where it provides the encouragement into the alternative process that will serve you both better.

And yes, we also accept that our best offering may not sound perfect or be fun and will still involve effort, expense and delay. It may not deliver all that you hope for … but it is likely to be better than the long walk to the end of the road marked “court”. And taking it will provide you with a better way to the future ahead that beckons you.

At FLiP we take a unique approach to family law. We balance our exceptional legal expertise with care and compassion, delivering intelligent and creative solutions while carefully managing any emotional impact.

We offer unrivalled expertise across all process options, whether that involves going to court, mediation or arbitration, for example. And we will work with you to select the best process for your particular case, providing first rate legal guidance and clarity around your options. Please contact us to find out more.