DR week is an awareness-raising week which aims to highlight the alternatives to court for separating couples and their families http://www.resolution.org.uk/DisputeResolutionWeek2014/
Firstly, for the avoidance of doubt, I absolutely encourage people to seek to resolve matters in a dignified and cost effective way. I think this is a really good initiative. I am also a member of Resolution (an organisation of family lawyers who subscribe to a code of practice to resolve matters in a non-confrontational way) and I sit on one of the committees. I also believe all cases should be approached in this manner.
I am interested, however, to know exactly the extent of the impact of DR week on people presently going through the court process. It is a bit like pancake day- you eat them for one day - but will you eat pancakes all year round?
The reality is that any family solicitor worth their salt will explore methods of dispute resolution with a client. This is my issue with the requirement to attend mediation. From April 2014, unless in exceptional circumstances, you cannot make an application to the family court without first attending a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (otherwise known as a MIAM). Most family solicitors were already advising clients of these options before the new requirements were introduced.
Often it is actually more cost effective and indeed resolution focused to invoke a court timetable against an agreement in principle to enter into early settlement discussions. That may sound counter-intuitive but when there is perhaps an agreement between Husband and Wife to avoid court proceedings by negotiating through solicitors the pre requisite to that process will be providing ‘voluntary disclosure’. That process can often take as long, cost as much money and become immensely frustrating without a proper timetable in place. You can therefore end up in a situation where a desire to avoid court proceedings actually has the completely opposite effect.
It is important to talk through all of the options at the very start of case. Getting a ‘feel’ for the case really can be as important as the legal aspects to make sure the process of resolving money issues does not become unnecessarily unpleasant.
If you would like to have a no obligation discussion about your options please do not hesitate to get in touch on 0121 203 5309.