Make peace, not war
2 October 2014 by Simon Osborn
Fisher Jones Greenwood has always encouraged family clients to consider alternative methods of resolving family issues to going to court. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) such as mediation, collaborative family law and arbitration can be beneficial for both separating parties and any children of the family. Sometimes, making an application to court is the appropriate route, perhaps where domestic abuse is involved, but in many cases ADR is an attractive option, especially where there are children.
Mediation and collaborative family law, whilst procedurally different, have ultimately the same aim – to achieve an agreement that each party can live with. If successful, agreement is reached in a much less confrontational way, usually at a lower cost and in a shorter time. Each party should walk away feeling they have achieved the best achievable outcome, allowing them to move on with their lives without feeling hostile towards the other party.
Family Arbitration is a relatively new process which allows couples much more control over how their financial case is decided without going to court. It is private, can take place at a location of the parties choosing and can be limited to particular issues decided by the parties. In a time of limited court resources, choosing family arbitration allows couples to achieve a solution more quickly and often more cheaply than going to court.
All too often separating couples see going to court as the only option. We always discuss with our clients the appropriate process for them and their children.
An example of how going to court can lead to matters spiralling out of control is the reported case of US v SR. The case involves a marriage of 13 years between a British man and his Russian wife who have three children. Their legal costs currently stand at roughly 38% of the assets available within the marriage. Each party is highly suspicious of the other, hiring private detectives in an attempt to make sure nothing is hidden. The parties have spent money that could have benefitted the children, or helped set up homes for each party. Mrs Justice Roberts indicated that these proceedings have very nearly plunged the family into financial ruin.
If people have an issue that needs resolving, it is always worth considering whether it can be resolved out of court. More information about the different forms of ADR can be found by following the links below. Resolution have created a helpful guide in relation to choosing the right process for you, this guide can be found here.