The advantages of mediation in resolving family disputes
Last night saw a rather emotional finale to the first series of The Split as Hannah appears to turn her back on her marriage and choose Christie over her husband Nathan. It perhaps didn’t end quite as I had expected and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was shouting at the TV as Hannah hit the buzzer on Christie’s door! But I’m pleased to hear that the BBC has announced that there will be a second series so who knows yet whether this really is the end for Hannah and Nathan or how the Noble & Hale and Defoes merger will pan out….
The Split has been a hot topic of debate and discussion amongst the family law world and whilst it is of course legal drama rather than reality, it has certainly brought to the forefront the intricacies of people’s lives and emotions which family lawyers experience every day.
As series 1 came to an end, so did Goldie’s financial case against her husband, Davey, and it wasn’t the ending that Goldie expected either. Despite her wish to fight all the way to a Final Hearing where a Judge would ultimately determine the financial outcome, she was advised to settle at the Financial Dispute Resolution hearing (a hearing designed to give both parties an opportunity to negotiate and reach a financial settlement with the assistance of a Judge) for fear that Davey’s criminal dealing (into which he had dragged their children) with the family company might be brought to light. It may not have been in Goldie’s interests to keep litigating as there would have been a significant risk that, if Davey’s mismanagement of the company and her children’s involvement was reported, there would be nothing left for Goldie. She was in a difficult position but Goldie decided to settle for an outcome that was best for both her and her family without the emotional upheaval of a final court hearing, the risk of criminal proceedings and the further costs incurred with continuing the litigation.
Achieving the best outcome for all involved sometimes means that you may have to pick your battles as fighting on every aspect can sometimes cause more harm than good. When it comes to divorce and resolving financial disputes, there is rarely a clear “winner” and often both parties will find themselves having to give and take to try and secure the best outcome. The court process in England strongly encourages negotiation and agreements can be and often are reached well before a Judge makes the final decision. Family lawyers must always consider the benefit and risks of continuing with litigation, which is a costly process, financially and emotionally, and which can have a big impact on the wider family and not just on the individuals involved.
The Split has certainly shone a light not just on the emotional side of relationship breakdown for all involved but also how family lawyers work with their clients to try and come to a creative solution that fits in with their needs as well as supporting them through the litigation process.
As a family lawyer, I have enjoyed observing the projection of our profession into a legal drama and I’m eagerly waiting to see what happens next…...
If you would like to speak to Alexandra Bishop or any other member of our Family team about any of the issues raised in this blog or through storylines featured in The Split, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
You may also be interested in reading other blogs with our reflections on The Split:
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