Although you need a court order to get a divorce, you do not need to go to court to reach a settlement with your ex-partner about your children, home or money.
One option is to go to mediation. In fact, a judge will expect you and your ex-partner to have at least found out about, and preferably tried, mediation before coming to them for a decision.
A mediator is trained in helping separating couples reach agreement even on difficult issues. They will not take sides but will listen to you both.
Your solicitor will be able to advise you and help you arrange a meeting with a mediator.
You might be able to get legal aid for family mediation.
Arbitration is another way of resolving disputes without going to court. It applies the law in the same way as the Family Court but it can help you and your ex-partner resolve any disputes more quickly and affordably.
Both you and your ex-partner enter into an agreement with a suitably qualified person (an arbitrator). You are both legally bound by the arbitrator’s decision.
Arbitration can be used to resolve disputes about:
- property and finance
- child maintenance
- living and contact arrangements for children
- other arrangements for children, such as schooling
You can discuss this option with your solicitor, who will need to refer you to an arbitrator.
You and your ex-partner are entitled to independent legal advice throughout the process. Your solicitor can go with you to arbitration meetings if your ex-partner agrees.