At Rudlings Wakelam our specialist family lawyers know that attending court is stressful, takes time and can be expensive. Most cases are resolved without the need to attend court and several options are available to determine a financial settlement following a relationship breakdown or the care arrangements for your children. See below from our quick guide to non-court routes.
Our family lawyers frequently negotiate with other lawyers. Sometimes those negotiations take place over the phone or alternatively in person. A roundtable discussion can be helpful as it enables both clients and both lawyers to meet and resolve a dispute amicably and without the need to attend court. We know that a family breakdown can be a stressful and emotional time. With our support and independent legal advice, especially during a roundtable meeting, we aim to enable you to resolve your case so that the needs of your family are prioritised.
A trained mediator can help a separating couple resolve issues such as divorce, sharing the care of children or financial issues. A family mediator will be impartial and independent. They will help you discuss and make your own decisions so that you can find a solution that works for your family. After an initial session (MIAM) to confirm your case is suitable, there will be a series of sessions (usually between 3 and 5) arranged to enable you to resolve your dispute. A mediator is independent and cannot provide legal advice. It is important to remember that mediation is not legally binding. Our lawyers will help you consider the options discussed at mediation and prepare a legally binding agreement that will be sent to the court for approval by a judge.
An arbitrator is usually an experienced family barrister or solicitor. The arbitrator has the same power as a judge to decide disputes about financial issues and child arrangements. All arbitration settlements are confidential. Both parties jointly select the arbitrator and you determine timescales. Arbitration provides flexibility to plan your case in a way that meets your own needs and focusses on the issues in your case rather than the formulaic way that traditional court disputes tend to be managed. Arbitration cases are resolved much faster than court litigation and this means there is a cost-saving too. Some arbitration cases are managed like court hearings and people attend a hearing with evidence being provided but it is also commonplace for decisions to be made by an arbitrator having only seen written evidence – especially where there are few issues to be decided.
Two clients and two lawyers agree to hold a series of 4-way roundtable meetings. A participation agreement is signed and both clients agree that they will not apply to court for a judge to settle their dispute. If their case cannot be agreed both clients must dis-instruct their solicitors – this is what binds people to the process. When an agreement is reached both solicitors prepare the paperwork and it is sent to the court for approval.
If you would like to talk to someone, please contact any of our offices.