I often see potential clients who come to me for a second opinion as their divorce or settlement negotiation has been dragging on for many months without any realistic timeframe around achieving agreement.
It goes without saying that if family law matters can be resolved amicably then that is by far the best way to achieve a resolution but I would always advise that if matters start to falter then it is time to consider an alternative direction such as the Court.
As a firm we are able to draw up documents in order to finalise matters for separating couples who can come to full agreement between themselves. This should be a swift, simple and inexpensive exercise to bring matters to a close.
However, where couples are not able to reach agreement, or perhaps not even enter into a meaningful dialogue (such as mediation) and it is proving challenging to achieve any meaningful progress there is the need to consider involving the Court. Taking a matter to Court should only be done following a genuine attempt to agree or where there is good reason to do so. Clients are often nervous of the Court option but there are very real benefits to be gained:
Firstly, the Court system has very clear ‘timetables’ by which all parties involved have to abide. If one party fails to do as directed by the Court then penalties can be imposed – this need to follow the set timetable can eliminate the lack of progress.
Secondly, where one partner is refusing to engage at all with the divorce process the Court can on occasion direct them to do so or enable matters to proceed despite the attempt by the partner to derail the process.
Thirdly, where couples simply cannot reach agreement despite active negotiation taking place, the Court will act as the third party arbiter in determining the most appropriate action or settlement for the circumstances
Most importantly of all, where agreement has previously been reached, if one party fails to abide by the terms of the agreement then the Court has the ability to ‘enforce’ the terms and has the ‘teeth’ to impose penalties if direction is not followed.
Whilst I would never advocate the Court as the first option for a family law matter I would not hesitate to consider it as an option if that is what is needed to achieve a resolution within a reasonable time.