Lengthy delays and last-minute cancellations are causing huge disruption and emotional anguish for divorcing couples resolving their financial matters via the “broken” court system, according to our family law associate, Stephanie Kyriacou.

According to the most recent figures from the Ministry of Justice, there were 119,709 divorce applications in 2022 – up 11% when compared with the previous year. The increase in the number of couples divorce is having a stark impact on waiting times, with it now taking an average of 52 weeks to conclude divorce proceedings, according to Resolution.

What our family law team had to say about the ‘broken’ system?

Family associate solicitor Stephanie Kyriacou said: “The broken state of our court system has been silently affecting lives for years. Excessively long waiting times and last-minute disruptions are plaguing divorcing couples seeking to resolve their financial matters through the court process, leaving them in limbo.

“The court, quite rightly, prioritises Care and Children Act proceedings. However, that does mean financial cases are often pushed to the back of the queue, leaving divorcing couples waiting for well over 12 months to have their financial matters determined by a judge.

“The repercussions of these delays are profound, leaving many individuals and families in a state of uncertainty and financial instability, heightened by the current cost of living crisis, as they anxiously wait for a final decision on how the assets of their marriage will be divided.

“Moreover, the issue extends beyond the long waiting times; financial remedy hearings are also subject to last-minute cancellations due to a lack of judicial availability. Such a situation is not only disheartening but also leads to significant financial burdens for the affected parties who have already invested substantial sums in legal representation.

“It’s basically a waiting game – there is no shortcut or way to avoid the delays. Urgent reforms to create a more efficient and accessible judicial process are needed, and that onus is on the government.

“It is possible to divorce without resolving financial matters but this is extremely risky as financial claims will then remain ‘live’ between the parties. The last thing you want is your divorced ex-partner returning after they learn you have come into some money and make a financial claim against you in the future.

“In the meantime, we strongly recommend divorcing couples explore alternative methods of dispute resolution. Mediation, arbitration and private financial dispute resolution hearings have proven to be effective alternatives to court that offer quicker, cost-effective and amicable solutions.

“There is a misconception that private financial dispute resolution hearings and arbitration are only for the rich and famous, just as pre- and post-nuptial agreements were once thought of. However, good solicitors should be advising all their clients of these alternative options to court as they could end up saving the parties thousands of pounds in wasted legal fees spent on our broken court system.”

What is a divorce?

A divorce is a legal process that formally ends a marriage or civil partnership. It is a legal procedure that allows married couples or civil partners to legally separate and terminate their marital or partnership obligations. The divorce process in the UK is governed by family law and involves various legal steps and requirements.

It’s recommended that individuals seeking a divorce in the UK seek legal advice to navigate the process smoothly and ensure their rights and interests are protected. The divorce laws and procedures may change, so it’s important to consult the most up-to-date legal information or seek advice from a legal professional.

How much does it cost to get a divorce?

The expenses associated with a divorce hinge on your role as either the petitioner or the respondent. Additionally, the costs are influenced by whether you and your former partner agree to divide the expenses of the divorce.

When initiating the divorce process (as the petitioner) and selecting the option for your ex-partner to cover the costs on the application, you might avoid any personal expenses.

How to divorce in the UK?

If you need assistance with your divorce, start by contacting us by clicking here. Once you get in touch you will then be assigned to one of our Divorce specialists, you’ll then receive a free 15-minute consultation within 24 hours via Zoom or telephone to discuss the issues you’re facing, you are then provided with a transparent breakdown of our costs and, if you would like to proceed, we send you a pack of onboarding documents and then following this, we will guide and support you through the process of achieving a resolution that works for you and your family.

How can our Family Law team help you?

Our Family Law team can help in many ways including Divorce and Separation, Child Custody, LGBTQ+, Family & Individual Immigration, Fertility & Surrogacy and Pre & Postnuptial Agreements

Who are Shakespeare Martineau?

We are a multi-award-winning business that provides legal advice for life and business, our purpose is clear: to unlock potential. 

Working with organisations of all sizes, we deliver a broad range of specialist legal services and have expertise across multiple areas including but not limited to energy, education, banking and finance, healthcare, investment funds, manufacturing, agriculture, family business, Islamic finance, later living, social housing, charities, and real estate. We also provide services for families and private clients.

We are part of the legal and professional services group Ampa, and are a certified B Corporation, meaning we have been verified by B Lab to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.

We have been listed in Best Companies 2022 as one of the top 100 best large companies to work for in the UK and ranked as a top 25 law firm, top 75 East Midlands company, top 75 West Midlands company, and top 50 large London company to work for.

With more than 1,200 people, we have hubs in London, Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Solihull, Stratford-upon-Avon, Bristol, Nottingham, Leicester, Lincoln, Sheffield, and Edinburgh.

Get In Touch

Stephanie specialises in advising clients in respect of financial claims on divorce. She is also highly experienced in dealing with complex Children Act cases and can represent high net worth individuals, business owners, entrepreneurs, land owners and those in the public eye.

Stephanie is a talented lawyer who has a passion for working on high value cases where there is inherited wealth or assets retained in corporate structures. Stephanie has been recognised in Chambers and Partners 2023 as an “Associate to Watch” for Family/Matrimonial work.

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Published: 16th August 2023
Area: Divorce

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