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/ 02 Nov 2022

How can I avoid going to court in divorce?

‘I don’t want to go to Court’ is often the first instruction we receive when seeing a client for the first time following the end of a marriage or civil partnership. And rightly so – who would want to battle through the procedures and delays and often acrimony that comes with a court application.

Of course there are situations where this is inevitable – for example, if you find out that your partner is on the point of removing all your joint assets to the Cayman Islands – probably a freezing injunction is the only solution – but in most cases there are better options. Partner Sue Harlow provides a guide below on ways to avoid going to court in divorce.

Sue Harlow


Family & Divorce

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4 ways you can avoid going to court in a divorce

  • 1 – Find a solicitor who wants to negotiate – beware the solicitor who tells you that court is the only option (it’s also the most expensive one!)
  • 2 – Find out about mediation and ask around for recommendations. Choose a mediator who is also an experienced and accredited Family lawyer
  • 3 – Think about a collaborative law approach – is this right for you?
  • 4 – Discuss the possibility of a Round Table meeting with your partner and your respective solicitors. Sometimes this is a great way either to agree what the issues are and what needs to be done, or if you feel you have all the information you need to try to negotiate a settlement.

Divorce and finances – avoiding court

Having sufficient disclosure of each other’s assets and income and identifying the issues is essential but if this is impossible in your case – for example your partner buries their head in the sand and refuses to engage with you – that application to the Court may be unavoidable. However, all is not lost. Court orders (sometimes with cost penalties for no compliance) may be the only way to progress but this does not mean that a final hearing with the accompanying stress and expense is also inevitable.

Using Arbitration for divorce proceedings

Ask your solicitor about Arbitration, this can be arranged whether or not court proceedings have been commenced and while the outcome is binding on you both, the advantages are that you can choose the identity of your Arbitrator –generally a senior Family Law barrister, the day of the hearing and where it will take place and to some extent agree the steps to be taken before the hearing.

Consider having a private hearing rather than a court-based one

Alternatively, if you have issued proceedings and reached the stage of the Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing (FDR) consider having a private hearing rather than court based one. As with Arbitration you can choose your FDR Judge, the hearing will take place in a calm location (often the barristers offices) and you can be sure that your FDR Judge will have read the papers and after giving you an indication of the likely outcome will be on hand for the day if required while you try to negotiate a settlement.  As opposed to Arbitration you cannot be bound by the judge’s indication and all discussions are ‘Without Prejudice’ but we find that more and more of our cases are now settling by taking them out of the court system.

How can our London divorce lawyer help you?

Contact our our family & divorce solicitors today and they will be able to provide more information and advice about these alternative ways of reaching a financial agreement with your partner.

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Call us on +44 20 7228 0017