According to Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly, the new changes introducing Mediation as a first remedy to resolve family law disputes rather than heading straight to Court, has led to cases being settled more quickly and cheaply
Family Mediation does have its advantages if parties can sit in a room together with an independent third party and make genuine attempts to resolve disputes, whether it's in relation to children or financial matters.
However, if for example a financial settlement has been reached, then it is still recommended that Solicitors are engaged to assist with ensuring that the agreement is made legally binding, so that there is no comeback in the future. This does not mean that the parties have to go to Court, only the document with the overall financial settlement recorded on it has to be sent to Court for a Judge to approve and make legally binding.
With children related matters, it's always encouraged that parents should be able to agree the future child care arrangements between themselves for the benefit of their children without involving the Court. However, separation can be extremely difficult and especially if the circumstances involve one parent cheating on the other and setting up a new home with their new partner.
I always tell my clients that in relationship breakups where there are no children, most people would rather never see or speak to their ex-partner again, and the majority of time this can happen. However when children are involved this is impossible. This is why separated parents are being encouraged to make joint decisions together and agree on an amicable basis the future arrangements for their children.
Mediation and Family Solicitors can both help with reaching an amicable arrangement for childcare, however it will never be legally binding or enforceable if one parent decided to unilaterally renege on the terms previously agreed, and stopped contact for example. Court proceedings would be recommended if there are problems like this.
It's a common misconception that when a Solicitor is instructed to start the divorce process, that this automatically leads to Court proceedings being issued. I have handled many divorce cases where the only proceedings issued are divorce proceedings and neither party has to step foot inside a Court, as the process is simply paper-based.
Agreements can be reached through Family Solicitors just as quickly and cost effectively as those reached within Mediation; with fixed fee divorce being an option for some couples.
For more information on the advantages and disadvantages of Mediation and/or Divorce Court Proceedings, call our Family Solicitors for a free initial consultation on freephone 0800 916 9055 or contact us online. We'll be happy to help you.