I am always surprised by the extent to which Milton Keynes* is dismissed as a concrete cow wasteland. It is, admittedly, a bit different to anywhere else in the UK . One of the initiatives that is taking place in MK at the moment is also a bit different: the pioneering Fast Track programme for divorcing couples. In the city which is home to the first peace pagoda in the western world, the lawyers and judiciary have been working together to support separating couples who choose to embark on a round table process. If a couple chooses to try to resolve their financial issues with the assistance of solicitors, they may want to try meeting around the table to talk through solutions. One of the concerns they may have about trying to resolve things round the table is that they will have to meet the costs of these meetings, and then, if a solution cannot be reached, the court process will need the couple to start from the beginning again, with full financial disclosure taking place on the prescribed forms. Would it not therefore be to both parties’ benefits to immediately start the court process, have a round table meeting, and then, if unsuccessful, jump to FDR, the second financial hearing, for judicial guidance?
The benefit of meeting round the table before the court has been approached is that it does offer the opportunity for that family to reach their own solution together, with the assistance of their lawyers, and with the incentive that if they reach settlement, it will not be necessary to issue court proceedings at all. This will of course not be possible in all situations, but if communication can take place round the table, and both individuals are content with the disclosure which has been provided, it can clarify many concerns and fears at an early stage, and hopefully reduce the amount of time needed to conclude an agreement.
If that round table process does not then reach an agreement, the couple can then enter the MK Fast Track at court, jumping straight to the second hearing, the FDR.
To be able to tell clients from the outset that if the round table option does not work, that the judiciary are fully supportive of their attempts to settle, and that they will assist negotiations from the point the round table process falters rather than starting from the beginning again, enables participants to feel confident in the choice they are taking when they enter that dispute resolution process. If the round table process breaks down, the fast track option means that the participants do not feel a sense of failure and wasted time and money: the work already done is of use, and the issues which cannot be resolved can be presented to the judge for consideration at that FDR hearing.
*”Note for Americans..Milton Keynes is a new city approximately halfway between London and Birmingham. It was built to be modern, efficient, healthy and, all in all, a pleasant place to live. Many Britons find this amusing.” (Good Omens: Pratchett/Gaiman).Get Expert Advice You can contact us for confidential family law advice. We offer free, no obligation, telephone consultations for qualifying individuals. If you would like to book an initial phone consultation at no cost, please contact us today. We will remain fully operational for the duration of the 2021 Lockdown restrictions in Milton Keynes. Copyright 2013-2021 Rainscourt Law LLP. All rights reserved.