The following is a guest post:
There is no escaping the fact that for many divorcing couples the process of officially ending a marriage can be extremely costly. Though separations can be ruinous in both an emotional and financial context, many couples retain hope of life after divorce, which is why even in the most embittered of times it is crucial that they are encouraged to work together to achieve a relatively amicable split.
The cost of a divorce tends to correlate with the depth of disagreement in a relationship. If a husband and wife argue over everything, there is a good chance that neither will want to give ground to the other during divorce proceedings. Personal assets, financial affairs and children are among the most common causes of dispute for divorcing couples. If a compromise cannot be reached, the matter will usually end up in court.
Around ten per cent of married couples in England and Wales go to court to settle divorce proceedings. The percentage is relatively low because court hearings are expensive; many couples realise that there are better ways to resolve their differences than by airing them before a judge.
Almost all family law solicitors in Yorkshire and other parts of the UK will advise their clients to avoid the divorce courts if at all possible. Some disputes cannot be resolved without the intervention of the court, but most can be settled among adults if issues of equity and justice are placed ahead of enmity and resentment. Of course, this is the difficult part for lawyers and mediators. Many people who become embroiled in an acrimonious divorce adopt a mentality of hostility and vengeance, hoping their day in court will justify each argument and compensate every emotional loss. Unfortunately, few victors emerge from the divorce courts, where judges base their decisions on rational concerns and often narrowly interpreted points of law.
The most obvious way to avoid the expense of going to court to finalise divorce proceedings is to not go there at all. Despite months or years of building barriers of hatred and bitterness, divorcing couples should be able to look beyond their disputes to reach agreement on important issues, such as how to split savings, who will live where and how parental responsibility might be shared.
If a divorcing couple is unable to reach this stage without help, solicitors or mediators ought to intervene. Sometimes people simply need to hear an opinion that is detached from the emotional complexity of the situation. While family and friends might foment feelings of rage and dissatisfaction, a mediation expert will offer an objective opinion that aims to defuse arguments, apportion responsibility and share property. Mediation is not necessarily free, but it is far less costly than going to court and divorcing couples might learn a thing or two about themselves in the process.
Regardless of whether a divorce is settled in or out of court, money can be saved by adopting a focussed attitude to proceedings. More time, effort and money should be spent on ensuring that people receive what they want the most, be it shared custody of children, a division of the family home or whatever else. Solicitors and mediators should negotiate core issues carefully, possibly by making concessions in other areas.
Apart from avoiding court, using mediation and focussing on the settlement, people who enter into divorce proceedings should at all times be honest with their representatives about their financial circumstances. Hiding assets or paying more than can be afforded will only prove more costly in the long-term.