In a move which mirrors Game of Thrones, an American man has filed papers with his local court asking that his ongoing legal dispute with his wife be settled in a trial by combat. Also in line with the much loved television show, it would be open to the man’s wife to choose her attorney to fight as her champion in her place. The man has requested that the duel take place in 12 weeks to give him time to secure Japanese Samurai swords for the battle.  Unsurprisingly the man’s wife has instructed her attorney to lodge paperwork opposing this course of action.  Oddly the suggestion has not been dismissed by the court out of hand- the judge has instead indicated that he would not be deciding matters any time soon owing to irregularities with the documentation which has been provided to the court both in support of the idea and against it.

If crossing swords (literally) with an ex spouse or partner seems a bit extreme, and keeping your limbs intact at the end of a relationship is important to you, thankfully there are a whole range of dispute resolution options available in Scotland.

There is, of course, the option to negotiate with an ex by having dialogue both via solicitors or directly. If that fails, the court can decide the case.

A kinder approach is Collaboration. The process involves open and honest negotiations taking place at a series of meetings at which both parties and their lawyers are present. Financial experts and mental health practitioners can also join the process if their services are required. If agreement cannot be reached, the parties can still litigate but must find new lawyers to do so on their behalf.  That alone is helpful in encouraging creative options to be considered.

Mediation is another available option.  The parties and a trained mediator all meet.  The Mediator’s role is to steer them towards reaching agreement regarding the issues in dispute.  The Mediator does not represent either party. Each of them is encouraged to obtain their own independent legal advice outwith the mediation process.

It is well known that litigation is expensive and can also take a long time to reach a conclusion. If concern about court delays causes anxiety, it is possible for a separating couple to agree to send their dispute to an Arbitrator.  A family law Arbitrator is an experienced family lawyer who has been specially trained and is qualified to make decisions in much the same way as a court would.  He or she can be asked to decide the case as a whole or to decide any individual element of a case, such as when the couple separated as this can have an impact on the value of the assets to be fought over. The benefit is that disputes are dealt with more quickly than in court and the hearing will take place at a time and location which suits the parties.