If you decide that your relationship is at an end, the practical complications can be overwhelming. Where will you live, and if you have children, who will they live with?
If you are married you can chose to get divorced or have a Separation Agreement. If you are unmarried the issues will centre on the children and ownership of the home. There are various ways of reaching a settlement with your ex partner.
This is a process by which the separating couple have a series of round table meetings with their lawyers present. All four work together to obtain a settlement that suits both parties. The negotiations are open and the lawyers meet together to prepare for the meetings. It can be very successful and reduces acrimony and cost.
A mediator is a qualified solicitor who is impartial and who aims to encourage the parties to reach an agreement together. Mediation is suitable for relationship breakdown where there is low level animosity; it is not appropriate where there are issues of domestic violence. Couples are asked by the mediator to refer to their own solicitor at each stage for advice.
Couples can reach an agreement without any outside assistance or they can negotiate via solicitors. If a solicitor is involved their role is to assess the facts and advise on the range of Orders that a Court may make. In Family Law judges have a wide discretion and the overriding principle is fairness. Each party’s perception of fair however can differ enormously.
If agreement cannot be reached then an Application to Court may be necessary. In respect of the matrimonial finances, the Court will expect full financial disclosure and eventually an Order (often by consent) will be made. In most cases it will be based upon the needs of the parties and taking all the facts of the case into consideration. In respect of matters relating to children, the Courts consider a Welfare Checklist which is designed to ensure that any order made is in the child’s best interest.