37 years ago a new divorce law gave vague directions as to how to sort out finances on divorce. It was a skeleton to be filled in by the judges. Unfortunately, the judges have made a real mess of it. The flesh on the skeleton has been decided by judges who live in London and decide very wealthy cases. They have tended to have a mindset of the chattering London classes, very much at odds with the rest of England and Wales. Also, the more important the case, the less experience the Court will have of divorce financial law.
So, frankly it is a real dog’s dinner.
And now, before proceedings are taken, spouses are expected to attend a session exploring the supposed advantages of mediation. It is like being told that there will be a winner and a loser, but not being told what the game is, let alone the rules.
On the Continent family law places certainty above what the judges call fairness and reasonableness. 20 years ago many applauded our system, with its emphasis on fairness and reasonableness. Now it is viewed with dismay. The concepts of fairness and reasonableness decided by the judges in London are so at odds with what most of us in England would view to be fair.
This distorted perception by senior judges in London has resulted in London being known as the divorce capital of the world, with women heading over from Russia, Khazakstan, Nigeria, Kenya, and South America, flying over here to get the world’s best deal.
Yes, it does mean that wives of very wealthy men get good deals. But it has meant complete confusion for 95% of the population.
This is by far the most complicated area of a divorce, and the most expensive. If you have limited funds and are divorcing, they should be directed here.
It is important that anyone going through divorce consult a solicitor before attending mediation concerning finances.
It is difficult to estimate in this area. However, a fully fought case which is relatively straightforward and which does not settle early is dauntingly expensive. If it proceeds to final hearing it would probably be £10 – 14,000 per side in a relatively simple case.
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The considerations are simply too complex for the average person to take this on themselves. Most cases settle. Generally, the richer the couple the less likely an early settlement. On the other hand, for those not as well off, the solicitor’s costs do an excellent job in concentrating the mind and encouraging settlement.