The ramifications of divorce are often played out in the news headlines, most recently thanks to the custody battle between pop star Madonna and film director Guy Ritchie over the future residency of their son Rocco.
While the cost of their court battle is unlikely to bother the multi-millionaires, the financial implications of a rise in the cost of divorce means separating couples are looking for novel solutions to deal with the change, as Philip Cowell, family law specialist at FBC Manby Bowdler, explains.
“One of the new approaches to parenting after divorce is what’s being called the ‘bird’s nest’ approach, a shared custody arrangement where the children stay at home and parents move around them.
“The emphasis in bird’s nesting is on parents doing the moving, and taking the inconvenience, rather than expecting children to do so. Parents benefit by needing to have only one property large enough for the whole family. The arrangements are often developed through mediation and are being supported by the family courts, reflecting the general shift in attitude away from sole custody to shared parenting.
“Whether or not couples opt for family-friendly practices such as bird’s nesting, they will still be affected by the recent jump in the cost of applying to the courts for a divorce. The 34 per cent rise from £410 to £550 has been introduced by the Ministry of Justice to help pay for the overall cost of administering justice.
“Many family lawyers have complained that the rise is unjustified, but it’s just one of a series of changes that are pushing up the cost of getting divorced,” said Philip.
The increase in costs and reduction in legal aid for divorcing couples could see more people trying to manage a DIY divorce.
“Some people may plump to navigate their own route through the courts, which they may find very hard. Others may find it difficult to contain overall costs if an ex-spouse is set on fighting, rather than agreeing. Obviously, the aim should be a fair and reasonable outcome and that usually involves finding some middle ground,” added Philip.
“That’s where mediation can make a big difference. Putting children first is the most important thing for any couple, hence the rise in different approaches, such as the so-called bird’s nest arrangements. What is most important is being open to collaborative mediation, as that can help bring a couple together to achieve a positive outcome for everyone, through negotiation.”
Follow this link to find out more about the Family Law services offered by FBC Manby Bowdler.