Why do people end up in court?

Posted by Louisa on 22 October 2018 in categories: Blog , Family Mediation

The family justice system is struggling with the number of people using the court system, a lack of judges, the demands on support services like CAFCASS and the unreasonable demands that many of those using the system have.  This means that by the time you have got to the first hearing in your application you could often have had at least two mediation meetings, or made a significant start on another dispute resolution process.  Couple this with the fact that going to court is a stressful and unpleasant process that generally wrecks, rather than repairs relationships and you may be wondering why on earth people decide to use the court system?  We have been exploring some of the reasons why people end up in court:

  1.  Protection:  sometimes people need the protection of the court either because they’re vulnerable or because someone is not playing by fair rules and so the court has to intervene to ensure that justice is done.  This might include a situation where someone has been abused – physically, emotionally or both – by their partner and they need protecting by way of an injunction.  It may also include a situation where one partner is trying to put assets where the other party won’t find them e.g in accounts in a friend’s name.  These people need protection and the court is the only institution that can provide the power to protect people.
  2. Stuckness:  In mediation we see people that have got stuck.  Essentially we define stuckness as where each person thinks they are right and the other person is wrong and they dig their heels in and expect the other person to change their mind and come round to their way of thinking.  If you’ve ever been in argument with someone where you were both convinced you were right then you know how entrenched and unhappy this can be as an experience.  Mediation encourages each participant to have empathy – this means to try to understand the other person’s point of view (even if you don’t agree with it).  This can help both parties to consider different ways of moving forward that aren’t person As or person Bs but which might work for them.
  3. One person won’t engage: Sometimes one person will not get involved in discussions about what happens next.  Despite all the different attempts their ex partner makes they will not come to the table to discuss things.  This can often be to do with where the other person is in the healing process.  It can take some time to feel that you are in a position where you can make decisions following a separation.  One person can be so shocked by their relationship breaking down (a relationship they thought was happy until the other person announced they wanted to separate) that they go into a kind of protective hibernation and simply can’t deal with any decisions or issues that arise from the separation because the separation simply does not compute for them.  They cannot understand how it has happened and they struggle to process the situation they are in.  Having time and some form of therapy to allow that person to come to terms with what has happened can be really helpful – rather than pushing them to make decisions they are not ready or equipped to make.

We hope this blog has been useful.  There will be no Facebook live this Friday 26th October but you can join our mailing list to access all our resources that help you manage your separation constructively for free.

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