The Family Courts are under so much pressure they do not want to see litigants in front of them who should be finding resolutions elsewhere. The Courts want to reserve their expertise to those cases that are truly complex, be that in financial terms or be that because of issues around safety and wellbeing.
As mediators we often hear clients tell us they want to go to Court, they don’t want to mediate, and that is their choice. However, the issues in these cases are generally not complex, but they can often feel intractable because they are on going and are fuelled by very strong emotions. Nevertheless, many of these cases could be resolved away from Court.
At a MIAM you will not only get information about mediation but – as accredited mediators – we are required to let you know about other means of alternative dispute resolution away from Court.
It means that if you cannot agree the split of your assets and mediation is not going to be possible for you, there are other process – before issuing proceedings – that can help you on the road to a resolution.
The processes listed below all require you to have first completed the process of disclosure before embarking on them, and provided you are both willing to be upfront and honest about your respective finances we would recommend disclosure is completed in mediation because it is a cheaper and faster process than others available.
Early neutral evaluation
Where you jointly agree to instruct someone – usually a long-standing qualified family solicitor or barrister – to advise you both what a judge would likely Order at a Final Hearing. The aim is to help you in your decision making away from Court. The advice is not binding but its purpose is to narrow issues between you and focus you both on what a realistic settlement would look like.
Private Financial Dispute Resolution Hearings
As part of the Court process if you cannot agree a split of the family assets at or around the time of the first Court hearing there will be a second hearing called a Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing (FDR) where the Judge works with you both to try to help you both reach a resolution of the issues between you. Going to Court is costly and it can take a long time for a FDR to be listed, so a private FDR is something that you can arrange between you – again with a jointly instructed usually long standing qualified family solicitor or barrister. They will give you their view on what a Judge would likely order in Court.
You can look on the Law Society website for collaborative lawyers, or go to the Resolution website. These are family lawyers with specialist training in helping you both reach a settlement in relation to your separation or divorce. Their aim is for you, with the help of your representatives, to work together to bring about a resolution. Collaborative lawyers will often arrange round table meetings to facilitate discussions around a settlement.
Lawyer Assisted Mediation
For more information go to the section on our website, Fast Track Mediation.
It is possible to agree – before you embark on mediation – that if any issues are left over from the mediation process you will refer them to an Arbitrator. Arbitrators are specially qualified family lawyers of long standing and their decision will be binding on you both.
Arbitration for Divorce
Away from the clamour, costs and delay of the Family Court you can agree to jointly instruct an Arbitrator who will make decisions binding on you both. You can agree for an Arbitrator to make decisions based on a paper application you submit to them, or you can agree that there will be an in person hearing. In both cases the Arbitrator’s decisions are binding. The costs of an Arbitrator vary and compared to the protracted court process and costs of instructing solicitors and barristers you may feel that this is a cost-effective way of disposing of the issues you cannot agree in mediation or in any of the other forums.
Where issues are solely focussed on the children, and arrangements for them, you may find it helpful to look for:
Personal and Family Therapy
Here is a link to BACP to put you in touch with help and support on your area.
Please contact us to understand more about these cost effective and alternative methods of dispute resolution away from Court and of course we will be happy to give you information about mediation too.
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