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Divorce & Family – why is Alternative Dispute Resolution so important?

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As members of Resolution Pilgrim Hope always advocate a positive process when it comes to divorce and where children are involved they are always a priority.

It has saddened us to read in the Law Gazette recently that many divorcing couples are not offered what is termed as ‘alternative dispute resolution’ as a standard part of the divorce resolution process.

Despite there being clear benefits to both parties, mediation and arbitration are not being offered to couples. As these are some of the most challenging aspects of divorce, support around them is something that could be resolve some of the issues that arise through the process.

According to a survey of 1,000 divorcees commissioned by national firm Irwin Mitchell, 39% of respondents were not aware of ADR at the time of their divorce and 35% were not offered it as an alternative way. A quarter wished they had gone into mediation or arbitration.

Their respondents found that the most challenging part of divorce was general financial arrangements, costs and length of proceedings. Three in 10 respondents thought their divorce might have cost less if they had been friendlier. Two-thirds of respondents had lots or some arguments during their divorce.

Former Supreme Court Justice Lord Wilson told a roundtable discussion organised by the firm that despite the upfront cost, ADR can result in a much quicker financial outcome.

Janet Bazley QC, an arbitrator, said the emotional cost of the divorce process is just as important as the financial one. Earlier this year the Ministry of Justice introduced £500 vouchers for families to resolve disputes outside of court as part of a £1m scheme to bolster the use of mediation. It has also issued a call for evidence to inform further work to mainstream alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

At Pilgrim Hope we have seen many of our clients adversely affected by the pandemic with family situations exacerbated throughout lockdown. More and more the legal framework is moving towards mediation and alternative methods of resolution that will result in a reduced emotional impact for all parties involved.

Helen Boynton, Pilgrim Hope’s family law welcomed the news that more focus is being put on ‘alternative dispute resolution’, as an advocate of a positive divorce process she is supportive of all measures that can be put in place to improve the outcomes for couples and families

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