During the second and third week of January, I’ll see more people who want a divorce than at any other time of year.
During these two weeks, dozens of men and women will come through the door of my practice to begin the process of ending their marriage.
People go into divorce proceedings in different ways, and while I will always encourage my clients to stay calm and reasonable, in all cases I would urge them to avoid taking a financial dispute to court where possible.
Thankfully, more and more couples are choosing arbitration and mediation in settling their divorces.
Out of court settlements save money, avoid lengthy legal battles, and they minimise the impact on other family members and children.
While they may not lead to a resolution in all cases, in my experience, mediation and arbitration is more likely to achieve a satisfactory settlement for both sides.
Communication is the best way of settling a divorce, but I find that it is also an underlying reason for a relationship breaking down in the first place.
It’s ironic that while we think of Christmas as a time when families come together, it’s also a time that drives families apart.
There are several reasons why this can be the case:
- It can be that, having spent more time with their partner over the holiday, they’ve realised just how bad their relationship has become;
- It can be that a partner can’t bear the idea of returning to a routine that seems impossible to change;
- It can be the prospect of a whole new year ahead which could be the same, or worse, than the last one;
- It could be that they’re nostalgic for how things used to be;
- It could be that, inspired by the New Year, they feeling that they have one life, and one chance to be happy and they don’t want to continue with something that isn’t right.
All of these can put a strain on a relationship – Add financial pressures and poor communication to the mix and there could be a recipe for disaster.
Mediation can be the key to a fair divorce settlement
As a member of the Family Mediation Association, I help divorcing couples improve communication with one another and negotiate a settlement that works for both of them.
When a couple start to work out a settlement, the prospect of reaching an agreement can seem impossible, but in my experience what most of them crave is a ‘fair settlement’ – accepting always that what is fair can often be subjective.
Through mediation and arbitration, a skilled lawyer can help re-balance parties’ emotions and help each side to see the other’s point of view – ultimately, this helps them to find a way forward.
It’s amazing how many times clients have been arguing tooth and nail over something on which they actually agree – and sometimes a small compromise can diffuse the tension and bitterness of a divorce in an instant.
Sadly, when a divorce goes through the courts, this doesn’t always happen.
Court proceedings on financial matters can become antagonistic, they are always expensive, and they can cause a great deal of grief for the couple and for their wider family – especially if they have children.
In many cases, the relationship broke down because of stress and a lack of communication, and these are the same two things that make for a messy divorce.
If you are getting divorced in 2018, I would strongly recommend that you turn to arbitration and mediation instead of taking your financial dispute to court.
It may lead to a better settlement, and it may lead to an easier future relationship with your former partner.