Do I have to go to court?
In some circumstances, going to court is inevitable. However, generally speaking, the court will expect the parties to have considered the alternatives before making an application to court. Going to court can be expensive and time consuming. If you can solve matters before going to court, it should cut down costs.
What are the alternatives to court?
Can you communicate with the other party? What are their expectations? Can you compromise something so you can achieve your desired outcome? If so, perhaps, suggesting a fair solution between you and the other party is possible.
Could you try mediation and/or ADR?
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process where a qualified independent Mediator will work with the two parties to a dispute and try and help them reach a mutual agreement.
Following a referral for mediation, you will be invited to attend an initial meeting with the Mediator called a “Mediation, Information and Assessment Meeting” (MIAM). This is a meeting with you and the Mediator. The other party will be invited to attend a separate MIAM. If you and the other party and the Mediator are happy to proceed with mediation following the MIAMs, then a Mediation meeting will be arranged.
Mediation is voluntary. There is no requirement for you to continue with mediation if you do not feel comfortable to do so.
Mediation is confidential and “without prejudice”; each person is entitled to openly disclose their position without the fear of it being disclosed in court (if an application to court is made later).
An agreement reached through Mediation is not legally binding. If an agreement is reached with regard to financial arrangements following the breakdown of a marriage and the parties want the agreement to be binding and enforceable, an order can be drafted and sent to court for approval.
There is usually a charge for the MIAM and then for the mediation itself. Depending on your financial circumstances Legal Aid may be available for the mediation process and for advice and assistance from a solicitor whilst you are going through mediation (Legal Help with Mediation).
Will mediation work for me?
It depends. It will work well for some couples but it will not work so well for other couples. Mediation has tended to work better for situations such as:
- For couples who are putting their common interest first which may be the children.
- For couples who wish to minimise the conflict.
- For couples who can see each other’s point of view.
What is ADR?
ADR is Alternative Dispute Resolution. This is an alternative way of resolving a dispute between the parties instead of going to court. There is Arbitration and Collaborative Law.
Arbitration is a process where an Independent Arbitrator hears your case and makes a decision – similar to court proceedings. Arbitration is often cheaper than going to cour. It is also private and confidential. The decision is binding and therefore enforceable.
The parties and their lawyers sign an agreement that they will resolve matters outside of court. The solicitors work in a non-confrontational way and have face to face “round table” meetings between both the solicitors and the clients. If the parties are still in dispute and cannot amicably resolve the matter, each party will have to use different solicitors if they wish to take the matter to court.
If you wish to speak to any of our expert family lawyers about Mediation/ADR and trying to resolve a dispute in an amicable way and the options available, or for any other advice, please contact us on 033 0300 1103 or request a callback.