October 2017

More Scots seeking out of court divorce settlements research reveals

Although the Office for National Statistics provides extensive divorce data for the UK, there is little research related to Scotland and nothing exploring new types of divorce, such as collaborative approaches. It is our intention to fill this gap by providing useful quantitative data into collaborative divorce trends in Scotland. We hope the information we provide in this report will help inform and provide useful insights for legal firms and professionals providing family law services, as well as the wider public.We asked 53 of our member firms a series of questions to establish the popularity of collaborative divorce, the practical and emotive reasons behind people’s divorce choices, the cost and timescale comparisons between collaborative and traditional court divorces and the demographics and age profiles of people seeking new ways to split.

Our research clearly shows that collaborative divorce is on the rise across Scotland. Our findings, combined with the fact that court divorces are on the wane, suggests modern Scots are looking for new ways to cut marital ties. More people than ever are choosing the collaborative approach to avoid confrontation and reduce the impact on family members. Although collaborative methods are significantly cheaper than traditional divorce, we discovered this was not the primary reason for avoiding the courts. People tended to favour the emotive benefits that collaborative divorce can deliver, particularly reducing stress, confrontation and the impact on children.

The rise in collaborative divorce is likely to have far reaching consequences. It is not only likely to reduce pressure on civil courts, it could over time radically change our perception of divorce. We will no longer consider cutting marital ties as a destructive and costly process, but rather something more positive and forward thinking. If more people can achieve a ‘happy divorce,’ then many of the negative consequences associated with court divorces can be limited or avoided. The main beneficiary of this of course, will be our children.

It has been argued that making divorce ‘easier’ will encourage more people to split. We see no correlation between the rate of divorce and access to collaborative methods. People who consider divorce of any type have commonly reached the point of no return in their relationship.

Furthermore, the latest Office for National Statistics figures show divorce rates are at their lowest level in 40 years, despite a rise in popularity of ‘quickie divorce’ methods and new technology that streamlines the process.

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