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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 to a family law case.

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 court 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.

At Sharp Family Law, our family law solicitors have extensive experience in handling court litigation, offering carefully tailored and robust representation to ensure that you achieve a positive outcome.

In situations where various forms of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, collaborative law and constructive negotiation, are either unsuccessful or not appropriate, our team can guide you through the steps related to the litigation process right the way through from start to finish.

Sharp Family Law accept work in person and electronically, by email or by filesharing on various platforms. We offer conferences in person, at our offices and by Skype for business, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, FaceTime or other video systems, or by telephone.

Read more about court litigation, the costs involved and how to get things started in the FAQs below.

To arrange an initial meeting with one of our family law solicitors, whether that is in person or electronically, please give us a call or use our simple enquiry form to request a call back.

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 probable outcomes and present your case in the best possible way.

Disputed divorce

In situations where your former partner does not want to get divorced or you cannot agree on the details of the divorce petition, court litigation may be necessary to ensure the matter is fully resolved.

Our disputed divorce solicitors can work alongside you to provide a clear overview of your situation, what you would like to achieve, and the best method moving forwards. During court proceedings, we can fiercely defend your corner and ensure you are able to achieve the desired outcome.

Divorce financial settlements

Finances are often the most contentious aspect of any divorce or separation, which means that court proceedings are occasionally required to ensure that both parties receive a fair settlement that protects their future interests.

We can bring forward and defend a range of financial claims related to divorce and leave no stone unturned when it comes to investigating your partner’s finances.

Child arrangements

Your children will always be your number one priority. So, if you and your former partner are unable to come to an agreement regarding child arrangements, litigation may be required.

We can support you in resolving various related issues, including where your children will live, how much time they will spend with each parent and how your children should be brought up.


It’s not uncommon for couples to live together without being married. However, unmarried couples do not have the same rights as married couples, which means that challenges can often arise if they separate.

We can help you resolve various cohabitation disputes through litigation, covering issues such as what will happen to your finances and property.

Why choose Sharp Family Law for court litigation?

Sharp Family Law is one of the largest specialist family law firms in Bath and Bristol. We have specialist expertise in supporting individuals and families through court litigation proceedings.

We are not a ‘one-size fits all’ firm – we want to make sure we tailor our advice to fit the litigation process around you rather than fitting you into the process.

We understand that going through litigation proceedings can be incredibly stressful, which is why we will offer carefully tailored advice and guidance and can refer you to other specialists such as financial or pension advisors where necessary.

Independent recognition for our family law expertise includes:

Our team’s training and professional memberships include:

  • Several members of Resolution – the professional network for family lawyers committed to taking a non-confrontational approach to family law
  • Richard Sharp is a trained collaborative lawyer and family mediator in both the UK and the USA

To find out more about our family lawyers’ individual expertise, please take a look at our team.

Court Litigation FAQs

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 contested 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.

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 the 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.

Contested financial proceedings and proceedings about children are separate from 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) 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.

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 its 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

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 sometimes 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.

Not necessarily. At Sharp Family Law, our first priority (depending on your circumstances) will always be to resolve matters outside of a court setting.

Resolving a matter outside of court will ultimately save you money, time and stress, as well as promote a more amicable resolution to your specific family law matter.

There are various potential alternatives to court litigation which our family law specialists have vast experience with. These include:

Collaborative law

Collaborative law offers a way for couples to negotiate the details of their family law matter with the support of collaborative lawyers, putting in place an agreement that ensures everyone is committed to making the process a success.

Constructive negotiation

During constructive negotiation, you and your former partner meet together for round-the-table discussions about the arrangements you need to make.

The process works by prompting you to have a detailed discussion about your situation and the circumstances related to your situation.

Family mediation

Family mediation involves you meeting with a neutral family mediator, who is present during negotiations to help guide the discussion and keep everyone on track.

The mediator is present to mediate and nothing more. They cannot give any specific legal advice, nor can they take sides.

Get in touch with our family law solicitors in Bath and Bristol

To arrange an initial meeting with our family law solicitors in Bath and Bristol, whether that be in person or electronically, please give us a call or use our simple online enquiry form to request a call back.