amicable & non-court dispute resolution

Originally published on 14th May 2024 at 3:28 PM
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If you live in England or Wales, the Family Justice System is the legal system in place to help resolve issues around family and children. Within this, are specialist courts which are responsible for different areas including; divorce, separation, ‘financial remedy’ and children.

The Family Court exists for children and family matters and is required to follow the ‘Family Procedure Rules’ (FPR). These rules were updated on the 24th of April with a focus on helping families resolve issues outside of the court .

As a form of ‘non-court dispute resolution’ (NCDR), amicable is a legal service that works with separating couples to help them divorce, negotiate a financial agreement, and decide arrangements for any children, without needing to use solicitors, and outside of the court process.

Other forms of NCDR include:

  • Mediation
  • Arbitration
  • Collaborative law
  • One lawyer, one couple
  • Other couples services

What are the changes to FPR?

Focus on ‘non-court dispute resolution’(NCDR):

  • Legal professionals who provide ‘Mediation Information & Assessment Meetings’ (MIAMS) must now tell their customers about suitable forms of NCDR and give them materials on each option. This means that the customer has enough information to make an informed choice.
  • One of the biggest changes is that a person wishing to start court proceedings over a family matter will now have to consider NCDR before and during the proceedings.
  • This means that a person wishing to start proceedings, must complete a form expressing their views on NCDR and ‘serve’ it to anyone involved.
  • A judge will decide whether an alternative method should have been used to resolve the issue. This means the court can ‘adjourn’ proceedings to facilitate alternative forms of resolving the dispute (NCDR).

Important : amicable customers don’t need to worry about this, because they are already using an NCDR to help with their divorce, separation or child arrangements.

Other changes:

  • Other changes include expanding the definition of ‘Domestic Abuse’. For help and support with this, please read our ‘Not so amicable guide’ here.

What’s changed?

When a couple separates, they usually need to do three things:

  • Decide arrangements for their children (if they have them)
  • Divorce or dissolve their civil partnership
  • Divide their money and property through a financial agreement
  • End their financial marriage/ partnership and have their financial agreements made legally binding (do you need this point and the point above?)

Prior to the introduction of amicable, separating couples who were able to agree, either between themselves or through an NCDR process, such as mediation, still needed to use solicitors to legally document their financial agreement and manage the court process.

A solicitor is duty-bound to give the best-case scenario to their client, which often introduces conflict and tension as agreements are unpicked and can polarise the situation from the beginning. This results in a lengthy and expensive legal process.

How is amicable different?

As the original ‘couples’ service’, amicable is different to using other approaches by providing an empathetic, emotion-led, fixed-fee service that helps families navigate all the legal and financial aspects of separation.

In 2020, amicable won a landmark High Court Judgment challenging the lawyer-vs-lawyer model of divorce and separation. This validated amicable’s approach of only working with couples rather than representing individuals. This method reduces conflict and acrimony by focusing on the future and what’s best for the entire family.

Our specialists are trained in the emotional and legal journey, and are experts in reducing conflict as couples separate and untangle their finances or make arrangements for their children. Our services are delivered online making us a more affordable and accessible option for couples.

How can amicable help?

We help with all aspects of separation, divorce and co-parenting. Explore our services here, or use our service diagnostic tool to understand your options. We also offer free 15-minute advice consultations which can be solo or joint.

If you’re not sure where to start, read our guide on how to separate amicably, or download our pre-divorce checklist.

For co-parents, we offer a range of services and have a co-parenting app to help make parenting after separation, simpler and better for your family.

Start your amicable divorce journey

Speak to an amicable Divorce Specialist to understand your options and next steps for untying the knot, amicably.

Book a free 15-minute consultation

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