Most of the public don’t realise that there are alternatives to family court or the traditional letter writing service offered by most lawyers. I would urge you to take the three C’s:
Consider all the other options, throughout your breaking up journey.
Change the narrative around a break up and divorce. Do things have to be angry and acrimonious?
Consider where you are on the breaking up journey.
The grief felt, at the end of a relationship by couples, their children, friends and family are real. Grief is not linear so it’s felt at different times. Do not mistake your difficult feelings with the need to have an acrimonious and difficult divorce. Instead, spend time working through the difficult emotions with a therapist, counsellor or family consultant. You may need to wait to get on with things until things calm down (but take legal advice to check).
As you can now jointly apply to the court for a divorce or dissolution of your marriage or civil partnership, there is no need to blame the other person. There is no need to state that there has been poor behaviour or adultery. No need to blame. The so called, ‘no fault’ divorce is a new normal.
It’s not an understatement to say that Judges do not want to see you in court. Judges only want to concern themselves with the most serious of situations. Most couples do not have a serious case. It will feel serious, of course, but it’s very likely not a serious legal situation; it’s just a normal case.
The courts are busy, so very overwhelmed that they are simply not the forum for the normal case. Delays and last-minute postponements are prevalent. Your privacy is not guaranteed with a push to transparency in the family court. So, avoid it if you can. There are more than 10 ways of avoiding court. (Almost) Anything But Family Court (OnlyMums & Dads 2022) focusses on all the ways to sort things out without judicial involvement. They include:
- Mediation and Child Inclusive mediation
- Hybrid/assisted mediation
- One Lawyer: One Couple (Solicitor Neutral)
- Round table meetings
- Collaborative process with Arbitration
- Arbitration with Mediation
- Private FDRs
- Early Neutral Evaluation
- Online help (e.g.Our Family Wizard)
Each process has advantages and disadvantages which are listed and discussed in the book. Assume that these processes can be used interchangeably, in a ‘mix ‘n match’ kind of way. Your situation is unique – think creatively about how these processes would suit you both.
Jo O’Sullivan contributed to ‘Separating With Children 101′, 3rd edition, (Bath Publishing, 2023)