Reducing divorce costs – a practitioners perspective
Fortunately, the days of having to go to court to get divorced are long gone. Courtrooms are now the exception rather than the rule.
Nowadays, the issue for most couples is what process should they use to help them agree on everything and stay out of court.
Getting divorced involves 3 main steps;
- Dealing with the paperwork (now digital) to obtain a divorce;
- Working out a future co-parenting plan if you have a child or children; and
- Reaching a fair financial agreement that can be sent to the court so that it can become a formal court order
One of the most cost-effective ways of dealing with these issues is by using family mediation which is a process that helps couples reach an agreement on everything so that they never have to go near a courtroom.
Dealing with the paperwork to obtain a divorce
Since 06 April 2022, it has been possible to obtain a divorce using the new No-fault Divorce process.
A couple can now file a joint application for a divorce using the new online portal. This helps to keep everything as amicable as possible. However, it is possible to file a sole application using the same portal.
In mediation, we will explain how this online process works so that you can deal with the online application yourself. You do not need a lawyer to do this.
The new process takes 30 weeks, on average, to complete. So many couples start the online divorce process and then concentrate on the other issues that need to be considered.
Working out your future co-parenting plan
If you have a child or children, you will want to sort out what time they will spend with each of you.
The terms “custody” and “access” no longer exist. No court has to make any orders about children. If parents can agree on future arrangements for their children, then no one else will interfere with that.
So, the question is, how do you sort out what those arrangements will be?
In mediation, we will discuss with a couple all the elements that are normally included in a parenting plan. We will go through each point so that a couple can discuss and agree on what the future plan will be. That plan can then be drawn up into a formal parenting plan if that is what the couple would like, but this is not a requirement.
The government are still offering a £500 voucher to help parents with the costs of using mediation to help them agree on future arrangements for their children. We are an authorised provider for this scheme.
We are also qualified to conduct child-inclusive mediation, which means we can speak with children as part of the mediation process. This enables children to have a voice in the process.
It is not asking them to make a choice between their parents. Parents have found the feedback from their children very helpful when making decisions about what their future co-parenting arrangement will be.
It should also be highlighted that the needs of children change over time, and mediation provides a good forum to come back to if any parenting plan needs to be revisited to suit any changing circumstances.
Reaching a fair financial agreement
When a couple gets divorced, they need to sort out their finances. Most couples would prefer to reach an agreement about this rather than go to court, where a Judge must make an order about what will happen.
Whatever process a couple chooses to use to help them reach an agreement, they are aiming to create a document called a “Financial Consent Order”.
This document sets out the agreement reached, it is signed by everyone, and then it can be filed with the court. It is then looked at by a Judge, and once approved by the Judge, it becomes a legally binding order.
In mediation, we will help you reach an agreement that can be converted into the Financial Consent Order. To do this, everyone has to provide full financial disclosure.
If we need experts to help with issues like valuing property, tax, business valuations or pension reports, then we can involve them in the process so that a couple has all the information they need to help them make informed decisions about reaching a fair financial agreement.
If necessary, lawyers can also be involved in meetings – this is called Hybrid Mediation. Everyone can speak with their lawyer before any final agreement is drawn and sent to the court.
About Family Mediation and Mentoring
Our business, Family Mediation and Mentoring, is owned by 2 specialist family lawyers, Claire and Rachael, who decided they didn’t want to litigate anymore but, instead, help couples reach agreements and stay out of court. They now work solely as accredited mediators specialising in all areas of family disputes.
- Online and face-to-face meetings
- Appointments from 8.00am to 8.00pm
- An easy-to-use online booking service
- A free call with us to answer any initial questions
If you think we can help you or someone you know, call us on 0800 206 2258 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, go to our website at familymediationandmentoring.co.uk, which contains lots of helpful information, and you can use our online booking system to book a free call with us at a time that suits you.