Over three-quarters of people found their divorce stressful while a quarter wished they’d chosen another way to end their marriage, a new report has found as part of Irwin Mitchell’s campaign to do divorce differently.
The survey by OnePoll polled 1,000 divorcees about their experience getting divorced, and whether their relationship ending had been an amicable situation, in a bid to see how widely known alternative dispute resolution (ADR) was.
The results were clear that divorce is often a challenging process for the people involved. Three in ten divorcees recall ‘lots’ of arguments during their split process, while four in ten wished they had a friendlier relationship with their ex.
There was a concerning amount of couples slipping through the cracks when it came to awareness of ADR: almost four in ten (39%) didn’t know what ADR was at the time of their divorce, while over a third (35%) weren’t offered ADR as an alternative way of resolving their dispute.
A quarter (25%) regretted not using mediation and arbitration services to end their relationship, highlighting the need for the family law sphere to signpost to these alternatives.
Irwin Mitchell’s new report, ‘Divorce – Let’s do it differently’, aims to showcase to both clients and family lawyers the different types of ADR available for couples who would prefer staying away from court.
Ros Bever, Director of Legal Services (Family) at Irwin Mitchell said:
“At a time where the divorce world is changing, we’ve been seeing growing calls for solutions that give couples more freedom and control over their divorce process.
“Pair this with a massively overwhelmed court system that can take months to get a hearing in place, as well as increases in remote hearings thanks to the pandemic, couples are looking for other options – but they don’t always have the knowledge, which is where our report comes in.
“Our new report has some of the most senior lawyers and experienced ADR specialists in the country talking about the logistics of ADR, supported by our survey which found a clear consensus on how stressful and difficult a divorce can be – even if things are amicable at first.
“We hope that the report sheds light on what different types of ADR are available for clients so couples don’t feel as if the only option is going to court. It goes to show that with a little cooperation in the family law sector, we could see a big positive change towards using ADR.”
The survey was discussed at a roundtable, hosted by Joshua Rozenberg and Irwin Mitchell including former Supreme Court judge Lord Nicholas Wilson; barristers and specialist arbitrators Nicholas Allen QC and Janet Bazley QC; Family Law in Partnership’s Gillian Bishop, and Director of Legal Services (Family) at Irwin Mitchell, Ros Bever.
The consensus of the panellists amounted to three things when it comes to the advantages of ADR: control, cost and cooperation. Their expert analysis of the ADR landscape can be found in the full report here.
ADR has grown in prominence recently; the Ministry of Justice recently launched a trial for mediation vouchers to be used, which gives couples a £500 voucher to put towards mediation services.
Meanwhile the Civil Justice Council’s ADR report marked a positive step towards making other methods such as mediation and arbitration the standard in family law cases.
“I was delighted to be joined by such an impressive panel of experts to chat about ADR, its benefits and what the future could look like for the practice.
“Our report outlines the main benefits of ADR, but most importantly highlights the other options for clients and how splitting up with a partner, whether they’re married or have been living together for years, doesn’t automatically mean court.
“We’re hopeful that ADR becomes the norm in the future ahead of court, and our report is a step towards raising much-needed awareness.”