Nearly half of British adults think they have to go to court to get divorced, according to a survey that shows a lack of awareness of non-court options for family law matters.
A poll of 2,018 adults by family lawyers’ group Resolution today reveals that 45% believe most divorces involve a visit to court, while 40% believe divorce can never be without conflict.
Four out of five respondents said putting children’s interests first would be their most or second most important consideration in a divorce, while 53% would prioritise making the divorce as conflict-free as possible.
Financial factors were not seen as particularly important, with only 1% saying that being ‘better off’ than their partner would be the most important consideration. Of those surveyed, 86% said they know someone close to them who has been divorced, a figure which rose to 92% of people aged 45 and over.
The survey was conducted to mark the first Family Dispute Resolution Week, which starts today. This aims to raise awareness of non-confrontational methods of resolving family breakdown, such as mediation, collaborative law and arbitration.
Resolution has published a new guide - Separating Together: Your Options for Separation and Divorce - designed to help separating couples understand and explore non-court based methods of resolving issues arising on the breakdown of a relationship.
Resolution’s vice chair Jo Edwards said: ‘These findings highlight how people have good intentions to prioritise the well-being of children and to avoid conflict during separation, but this can often be derailed by a lack of knowledge of non-court-based options and an exposure to the adversarial nature of courts.’
She said that non-confrontational alternatives can help prevent separation and divorce from being needlessly adversarial and benefit the whole family through fairer settlements and by prioritising the interests of children.
She said that a greater use of alternatives to court would also reduce the burden on the courts, which she said are under ‘huge pressure’ and ‘already struggling to cope’. She predicted that this would only get worse next April when public funding is removed for most private family law cases.