Do you have to go to court to get a divorce?

26 October 2017

Many people imagine that to get divorced they will have to go to court and that this will be a long, stressful and expensive process. In fact, most divorcing couples do not need to go to court, either for the divorce process itself, or to resolve issues surrounding the divorce, such as financial settlements and arrangements for children.

Non-confrontational dispute resolution (sometimes referred to as Alternative Dispute Resolution or ADR) can allow you to sort out your divorce by negotiation and agreement. This means no need to go to court and, therefore, usually allows the process of getting divorced to be faster, less stressful and less expensive.

What is non-confrontational divorce?

Non-confrontational divorce means talking through the details of your divorce with your spouse in a collaborative way, without resorting to court action and conflict. There are generally two main methods used – mediation and collaborative law. Each method has its advantages and may be appropriate under different circumstances.

Non-confrontational divorce is especially worth considering if you have children with your spouse. This is because minimising the conflict involved can reduce any potential distress to your children and allow you to maintain a better relationship with your ex, making it easier for you to effectively parent your children together.


Mediation involves you and your spouse meeting with a trained, neutral mediator. They will then encourage you to discuss your issues and any concerns that you both have and get you to work towards finding mutually acceptable solutions for points of conflict.

Any agreements you reach voluntarily through mediation can be made legally binding with a consent order from a court. This includes financial settlements, maintenance agreements and arrangements for children.

In most cases, a family court will require you to at least consider mediation before taking your divorce through the courts. You will need to demonstrate that you have attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to see if mediation could be right for you before being allowed to apply to a family court for them to handle your divorce.

Collaborative law

Collaborative law involves both spouses sitting down to negotiate a divorce agreement, each supported by their own solicitor trained in collaborative law. Collaborative law can be a good choice for more complex divorces, where you feel it would be beneficial to have expert legal advice on hand to ensure your interests are protected.

When agreeing to use a collaborative law process for your divorce, both parties and their lawyers sign a binding agreement that pledges you to attempt to resolve the issues without going to court. This means that the lawyers involved in the process cannot represent you if you do later decide to pursue court action for your divorce. As a result, everyone involved in the collaborative law process is fully committed to making it successful.

Use an expert non-confrontational divorce solicitor

Gepp & Sons family law team contains a number of trained mediators and collaborative lawyers, meaning we can offer a high level of expertise in non-confrontational divorce.

Many of our family lawyers are members of Resolution, a network of legal professionals dedicated to non-confrontational methods of resolving family disputes. As such, they follow a Code of Practice that commits them to avoiding conflict wherever possible in divorce proceedings and other family law disputes.

To find out more about non-confrontational divorce, get in touch with your local Gepp & Sons office.