You Don’t Have to Go to Court to Get Divorced

Many people believe that you have to go to Court to get a divorce or that divorce always means conflict. It does not have to be this way. Indeed, many divorces go through without the need for any Court hearing or visit to a Court building.

Here are a few ways to deal with relationship breakdown and stay out of Court and avoid unnecessary conflict.

alternatives to divorce


Family Mediation

Family Mediation is where a couple are helped by a trained Mediator to talk through the issues of their relationship breakdown, e.g. how the money will be divided, the arrangements for children and other consequences of the separation. It is a step to take after the relationship has broken down and each of you has decided to go your separate ways.

You can also be advised by a Family Solicitor during the mediation process and that solicitor can ensure any agreement reached in Family Mediation is legally binding. Mediation is usually much quicker and cost-effective than dealing with matters only through solicitors or the Court.

Collaborative Law

Collaborative law is where each of you has your own lawyer but you are trying to reach agreement over the division of assets and arrangements for children in a constructive way without lettings things degenerate into a battle between the parties and their lawyers or it getting into Court.

Collaborative Lawyers are specially trained and skilled at reaching agreements in difficult circumstances.

Each of you appoints their own specially trained lawyer to deal with the issues arising from their divorce or separation and signs an agreement committing each party to try and resolve the issues without going to Court.

If the matter cannot be resolved by agreement, the Collaborative Lawyer cannot represent their client in Court. This means that the clients and lawyers are firmly committed to finding the best solution by agreement.

Family Arbitration

Family Arbitration is a way of having an expert reach a decision about finances and property matters instead of applying to the Court and asking a Judge to make a decision.

The Arbitrator will make sure that all the relevant facts are addressed and the necessary evidence obtained. The Arbitrator will also take into account the views of both parties as to what should happen. The Arbitrator will give a ruling which is known as an “Award”.

Both parties agree to be bound by the Award. Arbitration provides considerable flexibility to deal with property and financial matters in the most appropriate way in regard to the circumstances of the individual case. It is much quicker than obtaining the decision of a Judge. The divorce process will still be dealt with by the Court.

Solicitor Negotiations

If Mediation, Arbitration or Collaborative Law are not suitable, there is always the option for negotiations to take place via solicitors and many divorces and separations are resolved in this way. In most cases, an agreement about property or financial matters will then be presented to the Court to become legal and binding.

Negotiations between the Couple

In many cases you may be able to agree everything with your former partner. This keeps stress levels and costs down.

Even if you have reached agreement, it is sensible to take legal advice to make sure you understand the implications of what you have agreed, to make sure you have thought of everything and to prepare the document so that the agreement is legal and binding. We are very happy to assist you if you have reached agreement directly with their partner.

How can Burt Brill & Cardens help me with Family Dispute Resolution?

Our family lawyers, Kevin Smyth and Wendy Ryle, both have many years’ experience in dealing with family law matters. They are both members of Resolution, the national organisation of family lawyers committed to non-confrontational divorce, separation and other family problems.

Wendy Ryle is also a Collaborative Lawyer and trained family mediator.

We offer a free 30 minute initial meeting so we can find out how what is best for you circumstances – for more information have a look at our Separation and Divorce Guidance page.

To arrange your meeting or to have a quick chat on the phone please contact us on 01273 604123 or email us on