FLiP Now With 26 years’ Experience Out On Mount Litigation
“Do not bring your private law litigation to the Family court here unless it is genuinely necessary.” Those are the words of HHJ Wildblood in a case in September 2020 involving medical records. What we need now when we face family law issues (whether it is thinking of a pre-nup or whether we are separating, whether we are married or not, whether our worry is around our children, our safety or finding a way forward with our finances) are solutions. It is the same as always. It is just that the conditions out there climbing mount litigation to get your answer from the person at the top of that climb (the judge) are changing.
You need to go better equipped now to fight your family law case in the courts than you have ever done and any lawyer pretending that it is essentially the same as it always has been is not wise to the dangers. You may be lucky – but essentially, the outlook has changed.
That is partly because what the family court is telling us is that it really doesn’t want to see litigating parties in the family court at all. Judges are increasingly likely to give you a range of unexpected responses:
- Short hearings – dealt with brusquely
- Adjourned hearings (because the court lists are overloaded)
- More limited investigation than you might want
- Hearings in public.
And it will be hard work. We don’t yet have the family court system where you pay someone to go for you – and you can wait in the wings whilst it is all settled on your behalf. You have to be on the climb too and there is really significant work in providing data, assimilating information about the system and giving instructions – many clients liken it to having a new full time job.
Absolutely there are situations that need judges, but there are a lot that do not. You can use the law but many people don’t have the equipment to deal with all that goes with it in terms of court process, cost, worry and effort.
So when it comes to finding your solutions you might want to think not so much about being the best mountaineer. Absolutely you need to be in rock-safe hands if you find yourself on that final ascent to the summit. But you also need a team that is going to do their best to avoid you even having to step outdoors; a team that is going to help you look for solutions all the way and do the whole thing in a way that supports you and at controlled cost. These are the elements that are going to matter more for more people in terms of the right team choice.
When the firm that is now FLiP opened its doors in 1995, it deliberately broke the mould, bringing together:
- Technical legal know how; but also
- Wisdom around the relational divorce;
- And creativity and expertise around ADR – “alternative dispute resolution.” (Back then court really was the norm and processes for sitting down and doing deals was a bit alternative for many).
Our culture for the last quarter century has been about an authentically valuable offering to clients that meet those needs:
- Technical legal know how;
- Wisdom around the relational divorce;
- And expertise around the process options and the choices between them.
Alongside the change of court norms over that period has been an explosion of non-court dispute resolution alternatives and FLiP has been with all of them. You will see some of them on other pages of our website: Collaborative – mediation in all its different forms – arbitration – private FDRs– the joint conference – the round table meeting protocol, some we built and for some we have been simply enthusiastic early adopters and supporters.
There is no “one route that works for all” – one of the most important pieces of work you will do with the lawyer you appoint is the triage, looking at your particular circumstances: what is the route that is most likely to get you to the right answer by the easiest climb (or no climb at all) quickly and cheaply: what is your best way forward from here?
- Pacing is all – but also the process is key
- If you engage in the right approach in the right way at the right time, the right outcome is going to follow.
During this time, the team at FLiP has been working hard on our technical knowhow too. Our intention and commitment is to manage both sides of the coin:
- The technical legal nuts and bolts (that final assault on the final ascent and all that leads up to it); but also
- A constant wrestle with where lies our best chance of avoiding putting you through that at all.
And that engages the relational divorce, what is happening for you, for your partner, for your children: how do we support you through to better outcomes?
In response, we have been refining, improving, expanding and developing. There is a lot that you need to know: we have boiled down the basics down into information packs so that we can reduce the time – and thus the cost – to you of all of this. And there is a lot that probably you don’t need to know – other than that it has been managed right by the right person – which is why we have extensive internal training systems.
The mountains are calling and I must go, or may be not. FLiP will be pleased to help you make the right call in response.