A fifth of divorcing couples in court do not need to be there
One in five divorcing couples who end up in court do not need to be there, according to England and Wales’s most senior family judge. Sir Andrew McFarlane said in an interview with the BBC that couples were mistaking issues with the way they relate to each other for legal issues.
He added that the language used in court can compound matters by framing proceedings in highly adversarial terms.
Sir Andrew said: “My feeling is that about 20 per cent of the families who come to court to have a dispute about their children resolved would be better served by, at least, first of all trying to sort it out themselves in other ways.”
His comments echo some of the arguments put forward by proponents of so-called no-fault divorce, which came into effect in April this year and removes the requirement for couples either to apportion blame or wait a considerable length of time before divorcing.
The reforms also included changes to the terms used in divorce proceedings, such as replacing ‘petitioner’ with ‘applicant’ and making joint applications for divorce possible for the first time.
One of the most effective ways for couples to keep their divorce proceedings out of court is to use mediation.
Mediation involves the use of a trained third party to guide discussions productively, to reach an agreement on child arrangements or financial arrangements, which can be made legally binding.