ADR Needed In More Divorce Cases To Keep Costs Down, Say Family Law Experts
A new survey has found almost four in ten thought their divorce was too expensive, highlighting the need for more cost-effective solutions for divorcing couples.
The survey by OnePoll polled 1,000 divorcees about their experience getting divorced as part of Irwin Mitchell’s campaign to do divorce differently. When going through divorce proceedings, a quarter (25%) of respondents had worries about the financial aspect of their break-up and how it would affect them.
When asked about the most challenging part of the divorce, almost a third (31%) said general financial arrangements were a worry for them. Over a quarter (27%) said the cost of divorce was an issue.
Over half (54%) wish they’d pushed for a better financial settlement in their divorce, while over a third (37%) said their divorce was more expensive than they anticipated.
Family law experts at Irwin Mitchell say the findings show a need for cost-effective solutions for divorcing couples – and the answer could be alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
Expert Opinion“It’s clear from our survey that the financial aspects of the divorce, whether it’s the financial settlement or even the cost of the divorce itself, can be truly worrying for couples.
“Unfortunately with the court system overwhelmed as it is, divorces are taking longer and therefore costing more in court and solicitors’ fees. This can be very distressing for couples to feel their day in court has finally come, only for it to be pushed back by months at the last minute.
“This is why it’s more important than ever for us as family lawyers to make sure clients know about all of their options – including arbitration, one ADR method – as another way of securing a final resolution in a way that can be more cost-effective than looking to rescheduled court dates.
“The fact the Ministry of Justice has introduced a mediation voucher trial and senior judges are talking more and more about ADR is a clear sign the judiciary is wanting to see more uptake, so couples should absolutely be asking their solicitors about it and vice versa.” Ros Bever - Partner
Irwin Mitchell’s new report, ‘Divorce – Let’s do it differently’, aims to showcase to both clients and family lawyers the different types of ADR available for couples who would prefer staying away from court.
The survey was discussed at a roundtable, hosted by Joshua Rozenberg and Irwin Mitchell including former Supreme Court judge Lord Nicholas Wilson; barristers and specialist arbitrators Nicholas Allen QC and Janet Bazley QC; Family Law in Partnership’s Gillian Bishop, and Director of Legal Services (Family) at Irwin Mitchell, Ros Bever.
During the roundtable discussion, Janet Bazley QC mentioned the cost of a one-day arbitration sitting is roughly £5000, depending on the circumstances.
While this may seem costly, solicitor fees can often spiral when it comes to a divorce or family disagreement going through the courts. In comparison, arbitration provides a specialist and private ‘judge’ in a setting the couple chooses and can tailor to their liking – while getting a divorce or dispute over property, money or children resolved more quickly.
Ros added: “With the upfront cost of ADR comes the customisability of the situation that many couples aren’t even aware they can ask for. Not only can it often be a more comfortable setting that promotes a far less fraught and emotional environment, but the case can be sorted more quickly than in the courts.
“This keeps costs down and can even give couples more peace of mind over the settlement they’re getting, as they can pick the judge they want to preside over the case – unfortunately in court, it’s not always guaranteed the judge is a specialist in the situation at hand.
“We want to see more couples choosing ADR and for more solicitors to be recommending it when it’s an option. Each case is different, but if our survey shows so many are worried about the cost of divorce, it makes sense for more options to be explored so that worry is reduced.”
Read Irwin Mitchell’s full report, ‘Divorce – Let’s do it differently’, here.