Court Litigation

Whether it’s because of a contested financial, parenting or child support issue, going to court is sometimes the most strategic and effective way to secure the required outcome. Courts are also better placed to issue urgent relief in the form of injunctions and temporary restraining orders (for example, to stop domestic abuse or freezing assets). That’s why litigation remains an essential part of any dispute resolution toolkit.

As a term, litigation often describes family court proceedings initiated by one party who needs a legal right or responsibility determined, enforced or protected. There are many reasons to turn to litigation. You might need to litigate if you and your ex-partner have polar views on what is the right solution, or if they are obstructing negotiations, or refusing to disclose relevant information.

Read more about court litigation, the costs involved and how to get things started in the FAQs below. Or contact us if you have any further questions

How we can help

Our specialist skills and experience span all family court litigation processes, and we work closely alongside other litigation experts to support and guide you at every stage. Whether you need to issue court proceedings or are faced with proceedings issued by someone else, we shall help you focus on the relevant issues, advise you on probably outcomes and present your case in the best possible way.

Contact Us to arrange a time to talk about whether your case could require court involvement.

Court Litigators
Richard Sharp, Sharon Giles, Clare Webb, Tina Marshall-Kelliher

Court Litigation FAQs

Why would I need to start court proceedings?

Court Proceedings, or litigation, can be necessary if:

  • your ex-partner is not disclosing all the financial information you need to make a decision
  • communications have broken down to the extent that you cannot negotiate an agreement
  • there are comtested financial issues that you need a divorce court to sort out, to get a determine a financial arrangement
  • there is domestic violence – or the threat of it
  • If there are cross-jurisdictional issues, it may be necessary to issue divorce proceedings immediately in England or Wales.

Does this mean the end of negotiations?

No – you and your solicitors can keep negotiating a settlement alongside court proceedings. Far from being a last resort, litigation can lend structure, guidance and support to tricky cases. But it needn’t mean a judge has final say over life changing decisions. Court proceedings may help you reach a settlement yourselves – something we at Sharp Family Law strive for wherever possible.

However, if your case does need a final hearing, we will prepare it with care. We will ensure you’re prepared for whatever outcome. And, once at court, we’ll meticulously put your case to the judge, enabling them to make an informed final decision.

How do I ask the court to deal with my child or financial issue?

Contested financial proceedings and proceedings about children are separate to the divorce process – but you’ll need to have started that process before the courts will consider most applications. This means that you’ll need to submit your divorce petition to the court first.

In the majority of cases, courts won’t accept applications for financial proceedings until you (and usually your ex-partner, too) have attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). This is to assess whether mediation might help you resolve your issues without going to court.

How much does it cost to go to court?

The cost of court proceedings depends completely on the complexity of the issues, and how both parties handle those issues – for example, independently or with the help of a solicitor.

Financial proceedings upon divorce typically take from 6 to 18 months. It can take longer if there are contested issues to deal with, such as companies or trusts. Because financial proceedings involve three court hearings (unless you settle your case earlier) in front of a Judge, as well as lots of paperwork, going to court involves an immense amount of time.

The law states that each party is responsible for their costs in financial proceedings. Occasionally, it is possible to ask for your ex-partner to cover some or all of these – for example if they have been unreasonable or refused to give full financial disclosure.

How long will financial and divorce proceedings take?

Divorce proceedings will usually take between five and seven months. However, as it’s usual to hold off applying for the final Decree Absolute until the finances have been sorted out, the process can and sometimes do take much longer.

Financial proceedings through the courts often take anywhere from nine months to two years, depending on the complexity of the case and the location of the court used.


Download a PDF – Court Litigation FAQ document (PDF)

Thank you, again for your sound counsel and unwavering support”

Further testimonials

May I also add what a delight it was to meet an opponent who not only managed to represent her client’s interests to the fullest but did so with charm, professionalism and pragmatism – sadly all too rare an experience these days.”

I woke up this morning feeling strong and optimistic. I feel lucky to have you and Deborah on my side. The pair of you make a formidable team.”


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