26th Nov 2013

The ‘Keep it out of court’ campaign – Something is changing

Not all divorces and separations need the court systems to sort them out

Many families are better served by avoiding court except for the simple administration of any relevant documentation.  This is a message that has long been promoted by the family law profession including Family Law in Partnership, specialist divorce lawyers based in Covent Garden, London who are pioneers in mediation and collaborative ways of working.

The message is now being agreed by large sections of the public.

In a recent survey Resolution, the family law group discovered that half or just over half of those surveyed;

  1. Would consider using a process that kept their divorce or separation out of court (51%);
  2. Believed that non-court based methods of divorce and separation such as mediation or collaborative law “are better for the wellbeing of couples” (52%); and
  3. Say that “non-court based methods of divorce and separation are better for the wellbeing of children” (50%)

Things are clearly changing and this shift towards keeping things out of court for families going through divorce and separation will continue for years to come.  The perception that family law issues can be well served using out of court processes is one that is embraced by the courts themselves.  In Spring 2014 it is likely to become compulsory to have at least attended an information session about mediation and other out of court processes before you will be allowed to even make an application to the court for financial or children orders.

The Resolution survey this week coincides with a very strongly worded judgment in a high profile divorce case where the the judge has been incredibly critical of the manner in which divorce cases can be conducted and the astounding lengths and costs that some parties go to within court based litigation – See Young v Young or this report on it – `Judge’s Fury at Eye Watering Young Divorce Case Costs.’  While the Young v Young case is unusual in its level of wealth and the manner in which the parties conducted themselves, this thrust of evaluating and critiquing the suitability of the court litigation process is consistent.

The government, the courts, judges and the family law profession are united;  Couples need to think carefully about how they might be able to keep their separation and questions about financial provision and parenting out of court.  The public is starting to agree as well.

Mediation, collaborative law  and arbitration are all out of court processes that can help you and your family to save costs and acrimony in resolving issues when your relationship comes to an end.