Divorce is a waiting game – apparently
A recent report by the Ministry of Justice showed that divorce petitions in England and Wales are taking, on average, almost a year (51 weeks) to get to decree absolute. The main reason cited for the delay is the restructure of the court system. In particular, the closure of numerous local courts and a move to ‘regional divorce centres’ which are unable to cope with the volume of cases being filed. London and the South East is highlighted as an area that is of particular concern as understaffing has caused serious delays.
Getting divorced is highly emotional and stressful and the majority of people just want to get the process resolved as soon as possible, so any unnecessary delay is troubling.
The same pressures on the court system are also having a significant impact on the resolution of matrimonial financial claims. It can take 18 months, or longer, to reach final hearing, with cases often going unheard due to lack of time or Judges. Several cases have even been adjourned the day before the hearing.
These delays can give rise to uncertainty and additional legal costs. They can also cause significant issues for business owners, who are likely to be concerned about how resolution of the divorce and matrimonial claims will impact upon the future of their business and its financial stability.
If you are about to start, or are already involved in the divorce process, particularly matrimonial financial claims, and you are concerned about the length of time that the case might take to resolve, then you may wish to consider alternative options such as Arbitration. A case can be put forward to Arbitration even if it is already within the court process, provided both parties agree.
Arbitration is legally binding in the same way as the Court process, with both parties required to present evidence and provide financial disclosure. However, it offers significant flexibility as the parties can agree which issues need to be addressed and the timetable. A case can be resolved in a few months (possibly weeks) rather than in years. The parties also jointly appoint the Arbitrator, who could be a senior barrister, QC or retired Judge, so you can both be sure that the person making decisions about your future has experience in dealing with the specific issues which need to be addressed.
Whilst arbitration does offer an alternative to the Court process and the benefits can be significant, it is not for everyone. To find out more about it and whether it is the best route for you, contact Gail Brooks, Associate.
Published: 6 Jul 2018