No-fault divorce and mediation: taking the pain out of divorce

No-fault divorce and mediation: taking the pain out of divorce

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James Harbottle
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No-fault divorce and mediation: taking the pain out of divorce

Lauren Preedy Partner and Solicitor and Head of Divorce and Relationships Team
Lauren Preedy Partner and Solicitor and Head of Divorce and Relationships Team

It goes without saying that divorce can be a painful experience. Much of that pain can be caused by conflict during the process, leading to stressful contested court proceedings.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

A recent major change in the law has removed the need to blame your spouse for the breakdown of the marriage, whilst simultaneously doing away with contested divorces.

And agreeing arrangements for children and finances through the use of mediation could do away with the need to go to court at all.

No more blame game with the new no-fault divorce system

The major change in the law is of course the introduction of a no-fault divorce system.

Gone is the requirement to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, often by showing that your spouse had committed adultery or behaved unreasonably.

Obviously, many spouses took exception to being blamed for the breakdown of the marriage in this way, and this often served to increase the conflict between the parties, and make it less likely that they would be able to agree matters relating to finances and children.

And sometimes blaming the other spouse would lead to the divorce itself being defended, and contested in court.No-fault divorce and mediation meeting

Thankfully, under no-fault divorce it is no longer necessary to play the ‘blame game’, and it is no longer even possible to defend a divorce. Divorce is now a far less painful process.

Please see the post we wrote here in April for further details of the new no-fault divorce system.

The benefits of no-fault divorce and mediation

But no-fault divorce doesn’t deal with issues relating to finances and arrangements for children, which still remain to be resolved.

And the best way to resolve them is of course by agreement, rather than by painful contested court proceedings.

It may be possible to reach agreement direct with the other spouse, or by negotiations through solicitors.

But where that is not possible there is still another way to avoid contested court proceedings: by referring the matter to mediation and bringing no-fault divorce and mediation together to resolve.

Mediation can only happen where both parties agree. If they do, they will have one or more meetings with a trained family mediator, who will help them to resolve the issues between them by agreement.

It is important to note that the mediator will not force anyone to agree to anything – a resolution will only be reached if both parties agree, meaning that the parties will get a settlement that they want, rather than having one imposed upon them.

And if they do agree then it should not be necessary to go to court at all. If the agreement relates to finances on divorce then the agreement will have to be put into a court order, but it is normally possible to obtain an order without having to go to court.

Mediation can avoid the pain and stress of contested court proceedings.Mediation meeting

And there has never been a better time to use no-fault divorce and mediation together. The Government has just announced a major extension to its mediation voucher scheme, which means that thousands more people will get help with the cost of mediation.

Under the voucher scheme, £500 mediation vouchers are provided to divorcing couples, with the aim of helping them find mutually agreeable solutions and freeing up space in the family courts. More than 8,400 vouchers have already been used, and new funding from the Government will allow for 10,200 more.

The voucher scheme covers cases involving a dispute regarding a child and cases involving a dispute regarding family financial matters where there is also a dispute relating to a child.

If you are interested in mediation, we offer a full solicitor-led family mediation service, dealing with both finances on divorce and disputes over arrangements for children.