When you are going through relationship breakdown, getting the right lawyer to support your unique set of circumstances who understands your goals is crucial. Disputes between a separating couple are often the most challenging to resolve and can leave a family fractured far beyond the making of final orders. But there are a variety of ways to resolve family matters, with most people wanting to find a solution without resorting to court proceedings.

Here, we discuss the various options for resolving family disputes and provide guidance on how to choose the best option for you.

Do-it-yourself Divorce/Dissolution

This is where you and your ex go through the divorce/dissolution process with little or no help from a solicitor. Whilst applying for a divorce or dissolution is relatively simple and requires little knowledge of the process, there can be problems. Most of these surround splitting the family assets and dealing with finances.

Working out your own financial agreement, whether or not you have professional support, can seem like the cheapest option. But it can be complex, and there are many things you will both need to consider. Not least ensuring any agreement you reach is set out in a formal document (Consent Order) which must be placed before the court for approval. In most cases, the Consent Order provides for a clean break and prevents any financial claims being made against each other in the future. Without this, there is potential for claims to be made even many years later.

It may be helpful to have at least one meeting with a family lawyer who can check your agreement. This will help you understand your rights and the effects of any decisions or agreements made. It will also make sure the agreement is legally binding.

Pay As You Go Divorce/Dissolution

At Major Family Law, we recognise that getting divorced or obtaining a dissolution can be costly. But being family centred solicitors, we understand the many financial pulls on your funds shouldn’t mean you are left without access to legal advice. To help with this, we have created Pay As You Go. You will have conduct of your own case and use our services as and when you need legal support.

We can help you across all aspects of family law including separation, divorce, finances, and children matters including:

  • Advising you on the law and procedure
  • Assist in drafting documents such as divorce and other court applications, and witness statements
  • Advise you about representing yourself in court
  • Represent you at court or help you obtain a barrister
  • Advise on specific issues that arise during your case, such as expert reports or statements from your ex

Court can be a daunting place when you are unfamiliar with it. We can guide and reassure you and generally be there for you as and when you feel it is necessary. You are in absolute control.

Traditional Route (Lawyer, negotiation, court)

When people think of divorce, they generally see one spouse serving the other with divorce papers and then proceeding to court to deal with the finances. In the traditional option, your appointed solicitor focuses on your interests and negotiates with your ex’s legal representative. Outcomes often depend on what the lawyers evaluate would be the likely result of the court process. Many cases reach a satisfactory conclusion without going to court via solicitor negotiation. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, an application may need to be made.

Choosing the right solicitor who is committed to easing conflict and resolving matters in a way that preserves your relationship going forward is important, particularly if you have children. This is why our lawyers are members of Resolution and follow their Code of Practice, taking into account the needs of the whole family. We will do our utmost to help you reach a fair outcome as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.

Family Mediation

Mediation provides separating couples with an opportunity to work together with the help of a neutral third party to reach agreements outside court proceedings. Unlike solicitors or collaborative lawyers, mediators do not offer legal advice and as a result are not required to be legally trained, although some are. Mediators facilitate open and constructive discussions and allow parties to identify common ground to encourage dispute resolution.

Mediation is particularly useful when couples are committed to finding amicable solutions and maintaining a positive post-divorce relationship. But there are also many other benefits, including cost effectiveness and flexibility; it is less formal and lets both parties take things at their own pace.

Collaborative Law

The collaborative process offers an alternative to traditional litigation involving solicitors and court proceedings and mediation. The collaborative process is voluntary and encourages the parties to work together to reach a mutually beneficial agreement without resorting to the court. Each party has their own collaboratively trained lawyer and makes a commitment to open communication and respectful negotiation which takes place over a series of meetings.

At Major Family Law, we have several fully trained collaborative lawyers who can guide you through the process in a non-adversarial environment. We always strive to find creative solutions to meet the needs of our clients that promote cooperation, reduces conflict, and support the wellbeing of any children involved.

A collaborative divorce/dissolution is suitable for those wishing to cooperate but where legal advice is necessary in order to reach an agreement. Both parties must be willing, trusting, and respectful if the collaborative process is to work, with neither side having more control over the other. If these things are not present, then it may be necessary to follow a traditional divorce route involving court proceedings.

Choosing the right route to resolve your family dispute is essential for achieving a desirable outcome. Whether you decide to instruct solicitors, opt for mediation, or engage in the collaborative process, each option offers unique benefits suited to different situations. For a summary of the available options, please watch our video on the topic: