New Year and Divorce – Top Tips to Navigate the Process
The start of a new year often brings a period of reflection and a desire to make changes to our lives for the better. For those who have made the decision to divorce, considering the next steps can be overwhelming. In this blog, FLiP Associate Rachel Wilson provides some ‘top tips’ to help you navigate the process.
Instruct a specialist family lawyer
For those unfamiliar with family law there is often a poor understanding of the legal principles applied by the courts. Given the significant financial implications of divorce, it is important that you seek advice from a specialist family lawyer at the start so that they can explain the process and your entitlements. A good family lawyer can also help you decide on a strategy to structure your case efficiently.
Explore your options
There are many different options available to separating couples to help them reach a financial settlement, including:
- Mediation: In family mediation, an independent, specially trained mediator will facilitate discussions between you and your partner to help you arrive at constructive solutions. The mediator will not advise you as to the law and so this process works well for those who want a framework and guidance for their discussions to decide on solutions that work well for their family, rather than law-guidance as to the solutions.
- Collaborative Law: This involves a series of meetings between you, your partner and your respective lawyers, in which you are to work together to reach an agreement. This allows you and your partner to control the process and also consider creative solutions to issues, while also benefitting from contemporaneous legal guidance from your respective lawyers along the way. There is a strong incentive for everyone to work towards settlement as, if the process breaks down and you require the court process or arbitration, you will need to instruct new lawyers to act for you.
- Arbitration: In arbitration, you and your partner will jointly appoint a specialist family arbitrator to decide the issues between you. This often works well where there are discrete issues that need to be determined; it should be noted that the arbitrator only has the power to make determinations about issues which you and your partner have jointly asked them to decide. Once the arbitration process has started, you can only end it by agreement otherwise it will deliver an outcome that will be binding on you both.
- Negotiations through lawyers: While your lawyer can advise you in the background to mediation or take the lead with negotiations during the arbitration and court processes, you may also prefer to instruct lawyers to negotiate directly with your partner/their lawyer in order to reach an agreement. If you find communication with your partner difficult and would like to have some distance from the negotiations, this can be a good option.
- Amicable Divorce: At FLiP, we recognise that most couples who separate want to work together to explore solutions in a cost-effective and amicable environment. Our service, FLiP Settle, harnesses three different components (mediator, counsellor and arbitrator) to address the legal, relationship and practical issues that arise at separation.
- Going to Court: In some cases, court proceedings are the only path to resolution, particularly if you and your partner cannot agree on an alternative method of dispute resolution and you want to ensure there is a binding timetable in place to progress your case.
Your lawyer will be able to discuss the various options with you during your initial meeting so that you can make an informed decision as to what process would work best for you.
Divorce is one of the most stressful life events people can experience and it is often accompanied by a wide range of ever-changing emotions. Having a good support network in place during this time is invaluable, whether that is speaking to trusted friends/family members or working with specialist counsellors or therapists. At FLiP we offer a counselling and divorce consultancy service which can run alongside the advice your lawyer is providing you with. Our in-house specialists have a depth and breadth of experience in helping individuals, find out more here.
Rachel Wilson is an associate at Family Law in Partnership. She specialises in private family law matters, including divorce and financial arrangements, children issues and pre and post-nuptial agreements. Rachel has experience of working on cases involving complex business assets and trust interests.
Rachel takes an empathetic and pragmatic approach to cases; she understands that every case is different and will listen carefully to clients to ensure that she fully understands their objectives before advising on a way forward.