Alternative means of resolution
It is a common misconception that if you cannot agree finances or arrangements for the children the only option available is to go down the ‘Court route’. There are in fact many options available to you to resolve matters between you and your former partner without having to endure the potential stress and conflict of court proceedings. Such options are also often a great deal more cost effective. Your individual circumstances will determine which option will be best for you. The most common alternatives are:
- Mediation. Family mediation is not marriage counselling or guidance, it doesn’t focus on the past or try to lay blame. Mediation can help you find agreed solutions to family disputes; it can offer a safe, supportive and confidential environment to build a framework for co-parenting your children and to resolve financial issues. An independent mediator will help you work together to reach an agreement regarding family arrangements for now and for the future.
- Collaborative Law. Collaborative Law is a term used to describe a process whereby both you, your partner and your respective solicitors work together to negotiate an agreement without going to Court. It involves a series of meetings attended by all parties. The aim of this process is for you and your former partner to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement, engage in open and honest communication and information sharing and consequently attempt to reach an agreement over the issues that are of chief importance to both of you. The collaborative solicitor will help you negotiate and will advise if an agreement is viable. If it is, they will then draft the relevant papers to be lodged at the Court.
Any agreement that you reach should be incorporated into a written document which may need Court approval. It is always advisable to seek legal advice.
Ultimately if for whatever reason no agreement can be achieved then it will be necessary for an application to be made to the Court to resolve issues. This should, however, always be a last resort.