June 17, 2022

How to guarantee privacy, not publicity, in divorce     

A recent judgement – which ruled that an affluent divorcing couple should be named in Court – has re-enforced how going down an alternative confidential route could have protected their privacy

The husband in the multi-million-pound litigation case had applied for a reporting restriction order so he could remain anonymous, citing his commercial interests as the reason.

However, Mr Justice Mostyn, the leading High Court Judge in the Family Division, decreed that the couple be named in the interests of the principle of open justice.

He also criticised the ‘standard anonymisation of parties in divorce cases’, highlighting that only an Act of Parliament could change the current laws.

The former spouses could have chosen a process which would have avoided the harsh glare of publicity regarding the family’s finances along with the emotional trauma, stress, and expense of a drawn-out Court procedure.    

These alternative routes, explained below, ensure confidentiality, and put children’s best interests first.

Arbitration – a private court hearing where couples hire an Arbitrator (‘Private Judge’) to speed up the outcome of their financial settlement.

Like a judge, the Arbitrator hears the evidence from the couple, collects relevant facts, and bases their decision on the evidence, considering the views of both parties.

Couples have the same Arbitrator through the process – something which will rarely happen at Court where different Judges are often involved at various stages of the proceedings.

The Arbitrator makes an Award over who should have what which is final and binding. The award is not publicized by the Arbitrator and is only distributed to the parties and their legal team.

Collaborative Family Law – where a “no court” agreement is signed at the outset in a shared commitment to find an agreed resolution.

The couple appoint their own collaboratively trained lawyers and work with them to find, address, and resolve key issues. Accountants, IFAs, and other relevant experts can also attend the sessions if required to provide expert advice in a neutral way.   

Mediation – where separating couples confidentially discuss the most important issues with a qualified mediator.  

They work constructively towards agreed arrangements for the family’s long-term interests. With the right mediator, there is no reason why financially complex issues cannot be resolved using the process.

The advantages of mediation include financial and time savings – the process takes the time it needs to resolve the issues, keeping communication channels open. Any agreement is again confidential to both parties.

Our partner, Nicki Mitchell, a highly experienced mediator and collaborative family lawyer is also a child-inclusive mediator who meets with children of separated parents and hear what they want.

Jones Myers founder, Peter Jones, is qualified to arbitrate on financial and property disputes along with the breakup of civil partnership or disputes between cohabiting couples whose relationships have ended.

These alternatives enable divorcing couples to minimise the fallout from a separation, agree the best solutions for their children – and get on with their lives.

For queries on divorce or family law, call us at Leeds, 0113 246 0055, Harrogate 01423 276104, York on 01904 202550. Visit jm2023.jonesmyers.co.uk, email info@jonesmyers.co.uk or tweet us @helpwithdivorce

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