As divorce lawyers, we are here to help, advise and support you through your divorce or dissolution (see below) as well as separation matters if you are not sure yet if a divorce is right for you.
We understand that relationship breakdown is not easy for anyone and we support our clients with kindness and empathy. We guide you in your divorce, dissolution or separation by giving you legal advice to help you make decisions for yourself and work out what’s best for you in your situation. We understand that it may not always be easy to discuss these matters directly with your spouse. We can be your spokesperson if you do not feel able to speak direct with your spouse, or we can advise and support in the background if communication with your spouse is something you think you can manage yourself. As your divorce lawyers, we are happy to offer as much or as little support as you want from us, depending on your situation.
We also advise on the financial aspects of your relationship coming to an end. This is a very important part of our work. We can advise and represent on separation agreements, consent order, financial settlements and court proceedings. We have considerable experience in financial matters and are pragmatic and conscientious as well as thorough.
We also advise and represent on the dissolution of civil partnerships.
We are experts in advising and representing you on disputes relating to your children including Children Act 1989 applications. Read here for more information about our experience in children disputes.
Sorting it out between you
There is no substitute for talking direct to your spouse or partner, rather than using lawyers as a mouthpiece. The more you can discuss and agree between you, the more successful those arrangements are likely to be for you and your family, and the more likely they are to work long term. This is particularly important if you have children and are likely to be co-parenting your children together in the future.
If you feel able to discuss and agree future arrangements direct with your spouse / partner, we can support you with that. You may feel more confident about this after you have had some initial advice from us. We can also support you all along the way in your discussions and we can deal with any legal formalities, such as having any agreement documented and approved by the Court.
Collaborative law is a model for out of court resolution so that issues arising from relationship breakdown can be agreed away from the Family Court.The process involves a series of ‘4 way’ meetings which are attended by both clients and their respective collaboratively trained lawyers. A Participation Agreement is signed by all at the outset. This confirms that everyone will work constructively together for the benefit of the whole family in order to reach an agreement. Both parties agree not to involve the Court other than to endorse any agreement. If however an agreement cannot be reached and one of the parties decides to involve the Court, the collaborative process ends.
Each client has to instruct a new lawyer. Collaborative law is known for promoting communication between separating couples and helping couples reach agreement away from court.Fiona was one of the first solicitors to train in the collaborative model, qualifying in 2004.For more information about Collaborative Law see Cambridge Collaborative Family Law Group’s website www.cfdrgroup.co.uk and Norwich’s Collaborative Family Law Group’s website www.gooddivorcenorfolk.co.uk
Family Arbitration was established up in 2012.
It is an out of court model designed to help you resolve your issues quickly and cost effectively. Separating couples agree to appoint an arbitrator who will hear issues about your case before the arbitrator makes an award (decision), which the couple are bound by.
The advantage of arbitration is that a settlement can be achieved in a less formal atmosphere than court. The timetable can be flexible, and adapted to suit your needs. Arbitrators can be asked to give an award on paper rather than have a hearing. Arbitration can reduce delays and minimise costs.
In 2013 Fiona conducted one of the first Arbitration cases in the country. The case concluded by agreement on the day of the Arbitration hearing, showing how effective it can be to encouraging settlement between the parties.
For more information about Family Arbitration see www.ifla.org.uk
Lawyer / lawyer negotiations
Before the advent of various out of court resolution models, lawyers would write letters to each other setting out proposals and then negotiating towards an agreed settlement. Many lawyers still adopt this model and in some cases it may suit the case.
If you feel anxious or unable to commit to mediation or the collaborative process, but you want to resolve matters away from Court, this may be an option. The process can take longer than other out of court resolution models, and may not always be particularly cost effective. However it may still help you reach an agreed outcome that can be endorsed by the court if necessary or desirable.
Round table meetings
The table does not have to be round, but this process is another way of coming to an agreement with your ex without involving the court.
A ’round table meeting’ is a meeting with your spouse / partner and their lawyer. The meetings help you talk through any issue and see if an agreement can be reached. This can help speed up the process, and may often work out more cost effective. Any agreement can then be endorsed by the court if necessary or desirable.
In many cases, court may be the last resort. If all other options have been exhausted and you are unable to agree the terms of a settlement, you or your ex can make an application to the Family Court. This starts a court driven timetable that each party must comply with and various procedural steps to be undertaken. If an agreement cannot be reached at any stage, the Family Court will make a decision for you at a ‘final hearing’.
The Family Court’s focus remains on settlement – the Court actively encourages you to agree matters and save legal costs. Judges realise how expensive the process can be and actively give warnings about costs, and encourage settlement.
The collateral damage of court proceedings can be very significant, both in terms of financial legal cost and the emotional impact on an individual, as well as the ongoing relationship between parties. It can also take a long time to reach a conclusion (in some cases years).
We are experienced in court matters, but we recommend that the best solution is for you to reach an outcome out of court, via one of the many other out of court models.
Please feel free to contact us using the following form if you have any queries.