Couples risk increasing the stress and cost of divorce settlements because of a “worrying lack of awareness” about a wide variety of non-court based solutions according to relationship experts, following the publication of new polling published recently.
There is “patchy understanding” and “ill-founded scepticism” about alternatives to going to court during break-ups according to a new poll commissioned by Resolution – the body representing 6,500 family law professionals in England and Wales. The problem is “exacerbated” by recent cuts to legal aid, meaning that “fewer couples have access to free legal advice, and so fewer people are being directed by solicitors towards solutions other than court.”
This is despite the fact that for many couples, avoiding a lengthy courtroom battle can reduce stress and can result in significant financial savings. In fact it is estimated that over 115,000 people each year could save money and stress during relationship break ups if they are made fully aware of all their options.
The polling was commissioned by Resolution as part of Family Dispute Resolution Week (25th-29th November 2013)
Shaun Underhill, a Partner at Winchester law firm Shentons commented “I am concerned that only half of people surveyed say they would consider trying a non-court-based solution instead of going court if they were to divorce in the future. For some couples, court is the only option; but for the vast majority there are other, more suitable solutions which make the difficult process of break-up that much less stressful.
As part of the survey respondents were also asked about a series of ‘Christmas Stress Factors’. It found that more than 40% of people find the Christmas season “very stressful” while one in three (33%) say they “just want the Christmas season to be over as soon as possible”. The findings also show that festive stress increases “significantly” for couples who have ever been divorced or separated:
Mr Underhill said “There is definitely an increase in enquiries from people exploring options for divorce or separation in the period just after Christmas. Please contact us to discuss the options”.