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By: Celia Conrad

I was delighted to attend the UK launch of the Amicable Divorce Network at the Divorce Out of Court Bootcamp on 12 April.

It was a real pleasure to meet founder Tracy Ann Moore-Grant and to catch up with some familiar faces and to meet new ones.

The Bootcamp could not have been timelier with new changes to the way the Courts approach Non-Court Dispute Resolution (NCDR) about to kick in on 29 April (Family Procedure (Amendment No 2) Rules 2023).

Mediation is already used as a form of NCDR, but many parties do not engage in mediation – it is regarded as a voluntary process and parties cannot be forced to negotiate – or attend a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM) due to safeguarding issues such as abuse or child protection issues.

But as of 29 April, MIAM providers will need to discuss all the NCDR options as well as mediation which includes arbitration, evaluation by a neutral third party (private Financial Dispute Resolution process) and collaborative law.

The Court will also be able to require parties to file and serve a form stating their view on using NCDR as a means of resolving matters out of court and can now make an order for costs against a party who does not genuinely attempt to engage in NCDR. While NCDR is not mandated the reality is that there could be cost consequences for not trying to agree matters and keeping the matter out of court.

So, what about safeguarding issues?

Interestingly, while here for the Divorce Out of Court Bootcamp, Amicable Divorce Network also hosted with OurFamilyWizard an Open Discussion on Mediating Domestic Abuse in the United Kingdom.

This is impactful because as already stated domestic is a reason for parties not to attend a MIAM as it is deemed inappropriate where there has been abuse – the new rules do modify the exemptions from attending a MIAM but abuse, child protection and emergency applications will still fall within the exemption.

This Open Discussion has led to the formation of the ADN Dispute Resolution Exchange Program to continue the conversations and provide shadowing opportunities between mediators worldwide about how it could be facilitated, taking on board all the risk factors involved.

The financial cost to the economy of divorce is calculated at over £50 billion according to The Relationship Foundation’s ‘Cost of Family Failure Index’.

But the emotional cost is incalculable.

As the second most stressful life event we can face after the death of a loved one, finding amicable out of court solutions to reduce the pain and fallout from divorce is a necessity.

Celia’s original post can be found here:

If you’d like to reach out to Celia, you can find her in the Amicable Divorce Network Membership Directory under United Kingdom.