Ways to avoid Court when negotiating a divorce settlement

Jun 03, 2020 | Christopher Dolton

Taking your divorce to Court and incurring added financial costs and the emotional burden of a protracted legal battle with your ex can make an already challenging time even more stressful. That is why most legal professionals will tell you that Court should be thought of as a last resort, rather than an inevitable part of the divorce process. Keep reading for our top tips on avoiding Court when negotiating a divorce.

Keep talking to each other if possible

The single most important thing you can do to ensure a swift and amicable separation is to keep communicating. It is normal to feel a lot of intense emotions when going through a divorce, but if you want to keep your divorce from devolving into a long and bitter struggle, it is important to try and keep these emotions separate from your communications with your ex.

Be realistic with your expectations

If you enter into the divorce process with unrealistic expectations, it is likely you will come away disappointed and may be tempted to take things further – even into Court. On the other hand, if all parties start out with fair and realistic expectations of what they are entitled to, things are likely to go much smoother. If you are unsure what to expect, it can be a good idea to talk to a legal professional before the divorce process starts.

Be willing to compromise

Regardless of your feelings going into the divorce process, being stubborn or vindictive will only do harm in the long run. Being gracious and willing to compromise will make the process easier and will go a long way to keeping discussions out of the Courts.

Limit the advice you seek externally from friends or family

The chances are you already know someone – probably several people – who have gone through a divorce. However, that does not mean you should rely on their advice or assume that your experience will be similar – each case is different and will be determined on its own merits!

Obtain initial advice from an expert family lawyer

Instead of accepting anecdotal evidence from friends and family – who have likely experienced only one divorce first-hand – consider talking to a legal professional who sees divorces proceed on a regular basis. They will be able to give you a balanced and impartial view of what to expect from the process and can help set your expectations as well as providing informed recommendations as your discussions proceed.

Consider attending family mediation as early as possible

Mediation can be a great way to involve experienced third parties in your divorce discussions without taking things to Court. If you foresee issues around childcare arrangements or finances being particularly difficult to resolve, it would be a good idea to involve a mediator at the earliest opportunity.

Be aware that the Courts will not be interested in who is to blame

If discussions breakdown, it is tempting to see Court as an opportunity for you to be proven right. In reality that is not how it works. The Courts are not there to lay blame on one party or the other; instead, their focus will always be on how to move forward and how the needs of any children involved will be met. It is very important to think twice before involving the Courts for this reason, as their decision may not be the one you are looking for.

Think about what is important to you rather than focusing on exact percentage splits

Sometimes divorce can devolve into a numbers game. It is tempting to get bogged down in the details of who gets what proportion of what asset, and in doing so lose sight of the bigger picture. Take the time to step back and remind yourself of what is important and whether haggling over percentage points is really worth it.

Even if you aren’t going to Court, continue to seek expert legal advice throughout the process

Even if you are going through mediation or negotiating directly with your ex, make sure you continue to seek expert legal advice from a family lawyer throughout the process. As your situation evolves and circumstances change, and expert opinion can keep you on the right track.

Get an agreement in writing

When a divorce is settled in Court, whatever decisions are made are recorded and made legally binding. If you come to an agreement outside of Court, make sure you take the same steps to record the arrangements you have settled on in writing, lest one party decide later that they want to change the terms. A legal professional can help you prepare these documents.

avoid court divorceHow Elite Law Solicitors can help

Christopher Dolton is a solicitor in our Family Law and Divorce team and can provide specialist legal advice in relation to divorce matters.

If you need assistance with your divorce or separation or have any queries relating to any of the issues discussed in this article, please get in touch with Christopher by calling 0800 086 2929, emailing info@elitelawsolicitors.co.uk or completing our Free Online Enquiry Form.

The content of this article is for general information only. The information in this article is not legal or professional advice.

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