Latimer Hinks, the Darlington-based law firm, is advising divorcing couples to follow the lead of celebrity couples by seeking an amicable settlement to avoid lengthy and costly proceedings.
As media speculation mounts following the announcement that Madonna and Guy Ritchie are to end their seven and a half year marriage, commentators are indicating that the couple may seek an out of court settlement in order to end their marriage away from the public eye.
If the couple were to decide on such an arrangement, they would be following in the steps of fellow celebrities Billie Piper, Chris Evans, and TV presenter Anne Robinson all of whom ended their respective marriages out of court and on cordial terms with their ex-partner
Judith Middleton, family law specialist and partner at Latimer Hinks said: The fact is, in a long-drawn out dispute, there is very little to gain and only money to lose. For many of my clients, all they want is to make a clean break as quickly and painlessly as possible and the easiest way to achieve this is through an amicable out-of-court settlement.
An out of court settlement is drawn up between lawyers representing their respective clients. It is then approved by a Judge and embodied in a court order without the necessity for a hearing. Property, money, assets and access to children can all be concluded within this agreement; resulting in a clean separation without incurring expensive costs for professional services and court time.
Judith added: The end of any relationship inevitably raises difficult and intensely personal emotions. Celebrities obviously have the added pressure of media attention to contend with and many wisely opt for private amicable settlements to avoid the public scrutiny of a court room. While many of us do not have that pressure to worry about, an out-of court settlement can benefit both parties and perhaps most importantly any children who may get caught up in events.
There will never be a winner in a divorce battle and a good lawyer will always try to seek an early, amicable settlement. The urge to be angry and vindictive is understandable but you only have to look at the example of the recent Heather Mills and Paul McCartney divorce to see how acrimonious and distressing a long-drawn-out court case can become. Any couple facing divorce including Madonna and Guy Ritchie would be wise to learn from this and seek an out-of court agreement where possible.