Clients are terrified of the divorce court process


I have been dealing with family law for 26 years and not much has changed in terms of the law itself. However what has changed is the attitude of my clients towards the divorce process. Years ago the average age of a divorce client at Emmersons Solicitors Family Law Department was about 34. Most of my clients had been married for less than ten years, they were often in debt, sometimes caused by the expense of the wedding itself, and whilst upset that their marriages were ending they were quite prepared to fight for their rights.

However, I began to notice that there were far fewer clients coming to see me in that age group. I have concluded that this is probably due to the fact that fewer people now marry in this country and those that do marry often do so later than in previous generations. I have also noticed that my clients are far more thoughtful about the whole process. Many have been unhappy for a long time but have tried to make things work with their spouse. Most of my clients are now over the age of 45 and have often been in their relationship for over 20 years.

These clients make it clear that they do not wish to find themselves involved in court proceedings. I see that as a good thing. I have always enjoyed being able to negotiate a settlement for the benefit of a client. Standing debating a case in a packed court corridor can be very stressful for all concerned. Luckily there has been a huge sea change in attitude over the last few years. Whereas in the past, I was one of few solicitors who preferred to engage in round table meetings, now this is becoming more the norm.

Having trained as a Collaborative Lawyer, I was able to see things from a client’s point of view rather than that of a lawyer. One of the main changes is encouraging you and your spouse/civil partner to lead the negotiations. Notably I have had to learn to talk less, my other half is delighted! It is therefore quite an eye opener to hear what couples have to say when they are encouraged to lead the round table sessions that we have. They are able to say what is most important to them and not be lead by what is most important to a judge.

Of course not all of you will feel able to sit and discuss matters with your spouse/civil partner. That is fine. We can offer you other options; we can all be in the same building at the same time. Everyone has access to all relevant financial documents, you can sit in one room with a member of our staff and your spouse in another room with his or her solicitor. The solicitors take instructions and meet in a third room to negotiate. The advantage of this is that the meeting takes place at your convenience. The negotiations are not interrupted by the need to go in and meet with the judge. You can stop for a breather or a cup of tea if you find the process too tiring or stressful. The meeting can be reconvened at a time to suit you if there are further matters to discuss.


I have dealt with everything from multimillion pound cases to those involving one house and one pension using this process. It can also be a far easier and faster method of dealing with issues relating to your children.

I appreciate that for some of you there are issues that simply cannot be negotiated, eg if one parent wishes to move abroad and take the children. Or there may be issues relating to the complicated ownership of a business. Perhaps you wish to remain in your family business but your spouse insists you leave. In such cases I would like to think that at Emmersons Solicitors, we can support you in such a way that you can cope with the court process, that you feel confident in knowing that your case has been prepared thoroughly and that you know you have done your best.

If you feel like you need help and advice then contact us now for an initial chat so that you can weigh up all your options.
Contact us to discuss your situation in detail.

Divorce Solicitors – Newcastle:   0191 284 6989
Divorce Solicitors – Sunderland: 0191 567 6667

Author: Jacqueline Emmerson – See more at:

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