20th Feb 2020

Does divorce always mean a court battle?

Tuesday night saw the second episode of the latest series of The Split hit our screens, so I grabbed myself a cup of tea and settled into another interesting episode…

 At the start of the episode Hannah (Nicola Walker) was criticised for taking a low value divorce case which didn’t involve a messy court battle. She explained that the couple had decided to try mediation and had been able to reach an amicable financial settlement through that process. The character’s response to the criticism was simple – “so you want a good old-fashioned dog fight?”.  

That is all too often the image of divorce which the media portrays and, unfortunately, there are firms of solicitors out there who only take this contentious approach to cases, rather than exploring Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), like mediation and collaborative law. But as Hannah contested, not all divorces have to end in a “dog fight” in court – for many, there is a better way.

As a member of Resolution (a group of professionals who promote a constructive approach to family matters) I am committed to considering ADR before resorting to court action. I take this approach partly because court is extremely expensive and stressful on all concerned and the emotional and financial cost is heavy on people going through an already difficult time in their lives.

The long-term result can be complete alienation and, while a relationship may have broken down, it doesn’t mean that contact after divorce will not be needed – particularly when children are involved.

It does however take two sensible people to adopt ADR and sometimes a spouse wants their day in court and there may be little you can do.  

Taking a constructive approach

All our team are members of Resolution and are collaboratively trained. My colleague Sarah Smith, is also a trained mediator and parenting coordinator and our focus is to keep matters out of court wherever possible. You can therefore rest assured that all your options will be explored with us, should you find yourself needing advice from a family lawyer. 

Danielle Day is a collaboratively trained lawyer and head of family law at Berwins.

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