Watch any soap opera and you will often hear separating couples yell at each other “See you in Court!”, and “You’ll be hearing from my lawyer!” Emotive language; meant as a threat. The truth of the matter is that the vast majority of divorce / family disputes do not end up in Court in the way that soap operas would have us believe. It is however necessary for every separating couple to consider (if not go through) a form of Court process in order to achieve financial closure, and thus to be able to move on with their lives. Why is this? The answer is simple.

When a couple gets married, both parties automatically acquire financial rights and obligations by virtue of the law being asked to join them in wedlock. Those financial rights and obligations will continue irrespective of whether the marriage itself ends. Those obligations are like silken ties which survive the issue of a Decree Absolute. In order to obtain financial closure and to be certain that “what is mine is mine” in the future, a couple need to go to Court to get Orders ending the marriage and cutting those silken ties that will otherwise continue to link them together financially until death do them part. Thus a couple need to “go to Court”. They do not physically need to go to Court however. Their paperwork gets sent to the Court, and if the Court is happy with it, the Court will approve it from afar and send it back with a little black seal with the Court’s details on it which makes the document legally binding, enforceable, and final.

So, if a couple reaches a financial agreement through their lawyers, that agreement will save them the need for a contested, and possibly very costly Court battle. The Court will in the majority of cases approve an agreed settlement which looks about right. It saves Court time; it saves the couple a lot of money.

So, when couples shout at each other “See you in Court!”, they are wrong. They will not see each other in Court. The Judge will see their paperwork, but if the lawyers do their job properly and there is fair agreement between the husband and the wife, none of the parties involved in the process will ever have to cross the threshold of the Court. It is a common misconception that by issuing divorce proceedings you are going to war with the other party. Not so. Divorce proceedings in these circumstances are merely a means to an end. It’s all just a paper exercise in the end.

So, whilst someone is right in saying “You’ll be hearing from my lawyer”, they would be wrong to say “See you in Court!”.

For more information please contact Elizabeth Hodder.

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