The issue of court proceedings should not be seen as a hostile step. Often it is a way of ensuring that a timetable is set to ensure matters proceed in a timely manner.
Before we would advise you to issue court proceedings to deal with, for example, the resolution of the finances or children issues we will normally have a discussion with you about the alternative ways of dealing with matters which we refer to above. If it is going to be possible to resolve matters without court proceedings then our view is that should be attempted first.
However there will be cases where there is little alternative but to refer the matter to the court and in those cases it may well be that it would be sensible to do so relatively early to avoid delays and costs being run up in attempts at negotiation which are unlikely to be successful.
There are other occasions when the urgency of the matter is going to require court proceedings (such as when children have not been returned from contact and urgent steps are needed or where protection is needed in the case of domestic violence).
All of our specialist family law solicitors are experienced in taking matters through the courts and will be able to advise you of the steps that are needed. All our solicitors are also experienced advocates and are able to act for you before the courts. However in a number of cases where there are more complex issues we may well advise you to consider the employment of a barrister who specialises in the area of work involved. That barrister would then be able to advise us in meetings prior to the hearing (called conferences) and represent you at court. We will be happy to recommend which Barrister we believe would be best for your case.
We fully appreciate that the thought of “going to court” can be worrying. We understand that and will do our best to explain to you what will be involved at each stage.
In all matters there will be various directions hearings that take place prior to any full court hearing. You will be able to come along to those and be represented by us and in those initial hearings you will not be expected to speak to the court at all. It will enable you to get an understanding of the court and what is involved.
The courts in which family law matters are dealt with are normally very similar to offices and it is very unusual for there to be any third party at the court apart from the Judge, the parties and the solicitors.
It is also important to understand that issuing court proceedings does not mean that you are automatically going to go to a full court hearing. The courts will do all they can to encourage the parties to continue negotiations and settle matters.
In an application for finances the court fix a series of court hearings including one which is specically to encourage the parties to negotiate a settlement before a final hearing takes place. The majority of cases do settle before a full court hearing.
As a result the issue of court proceedings can sometimes be an incentive to persuade the other party to act reasonably and negotiate a settlement.
Whether or not to issue proceedings is something we will discuss with you and advise you on.