Alternative ways to separate

Posted by Christine Plews on
It doesn't have to end in Court...
Further to the unfolding saga regarding the sudden separation of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes; whilst given the profile of the individuals, all reports must be read with some speculation as to their accuracy.

It was clear that concerns about influences on their six-year-old daughter heavily contributed to Katie Holmes leaving the marriage and seeking sole 'custody' of Suri. Interestingly though, it was the parties' joint overwhelming and primary concern for Suri's welfare that appears to have enabled them to amicably agree a full financial settlement with the assistance of reputable and sensible lawyers and avoid the unpleasantness that a public court case would have resulted in.

When any couple separate, many believe that the Court is the only place that matters can be settled but this is not so. Having a Judge in the UK decide how the results of your marriage are to be divided can be unsatisfactory for both parties and can ultimately see assets eroded in legal fees that may be avoided if both parties are willing to be sensible, to compromise and be guided by experienced lawyers.

There are now many different alternatives that couples can try before proceeding to Court. These include mediation, collaborative law and straightforward discussions between the parties with individual guidance from their own lawyers. These options, when circumstantially appropriate, can be successful and allow the parties to achieve a result that suits their own priorities and not have an independent Judge decide, often in a matter of hours, what is best for them.  Furthermore, when children are involved in a separation, the quicker matters can be agreed, the more the parties are able to focus on helping their children through the inevitable changes ahead.

In stark contrast, the court case of an American entrepreneur, Mark Evans and his estranged wife, Jenifer Evans has headed to the Court of Appeal where a senior Judge, Mr Justice Thorpe, has likened the couple to 'squabbling children' and criticised the disproportionate sums spent on legal fees dealing with matters.

Two very different couples dealing with the breakdowns of their marriages in very different ways. Every case is different but surely being sensible and being willing to compromise whatever route you choose is best for everyone involved.

About the Author

Christine leads the Family Law Practice Group and specialises in matters arising out of divorce and separation, including cohabitee disputes. She is an experienced mediator.

Christine Plews
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01865 254213

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