Why is it frequently complained that divorce takes too long, costs too much and is so stressful that it is difficult to cope?
We believe the common cause is that all too often people find themselves in the wrong divorce process. Indeed, they are rarely given the opportunity to choose the right process!
The first thought of the inexperienced divorcee is normally to consult a solicitor and that often results in costly court proceedings and an expensive and bitter struggle. Few people know that it is now possible to apply for their divorce online and few are informed of the many different processes that are available and which might be more suitable than battling through the courts. Some of these processes don’t even involve a solicitor! The choices are:-
1.THE DIY DIVORCE
The parties sit down together and sort everything out themselves. Obviously the cheapest, quickest and best way of resolving matters and moving forward.
A third party, the mediator, encourages the parties to compromise and reach an agreement. Where mediation works it is normally cheaper, quicker and less confrontational than other processes.
The parties step outside the court system and engage an arbitrator, normally a retired judge or senior barrister, to hear the arguments put forward by each party’s lawyers. The arbitrator will then decide the outcome and the parties will be bound by the decision. The arbitration will take place at a time convenient to the parties and, as the hearing is in private, there will be no publicity.
4. COLLABORATIVE LAW
Collaborative law basically involves sitting down with the other side and their lawyers to try to reach agreement. Even if there is no agreement it should at least be possible to narrow the issues so that the outstanding ones can perhaps be mediated or arbitrated - it is possible to mix and match processes in order to reach an agreement without resorting to the courts.
5. LITIGANT IN PERSON
Although this is probably the most important time of one’s life, the sad fact is that, for most people, law is unaffordable, and they have to do the best they can and act for themselves. However, you only have the one chance at getting it ‘right’ and when acting for yourself it’s very easy to get things wrong and make costly mistakes.
6. DIRECT ACCESS
Direct Access involves bypassing the solicitor and instructing a barrister direct. The advantages are firstly, the barristers are the experts (they are the people who the solicitors consult when they require an expert view), so why not consult them directly. Secondly, it is a cheaper process as it cuts out the duplication of having both a solicitor and a barrister and surprisingly barrister’s hourly rates are also generally cheaper than solicitors.
7. THE COURT BATTLE
The last resort! If nothing else works this is where you will end up, fighting for as long as either party has the money, tenacity and strength to pursue their case.
Going through a divorce is such an important moment – not just emotionally but also financially (for most people probably the most important financial time of their life) and, when children are involved, for their future too. At such an emotional time, on your own and without knowing your way around the system, it’s difficult to make the right choices. There is so much to consider and, without an in-depth knowledge of the many different divorce processes, it’s so easy to waste money and make expensive mistakes.
This article was written by David Margo, the founder of Divorce Solutions, who are a divorce consultancy based in London’s West End. Their team comprises of experienced lawyers who are acting as consultants guiding their clients through the legal maze and to the right process in order to make their divorce less stressful and less costly.
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