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Can I stop my ex taking me to court?

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If you are separated or getting divorced, then you won't be on your own in fearing that your ex will take you to court. In this blog specialist family law solicitor, Behzad Sharmin, looks at whether you can stop your ex taking you to court.


If you have family law questions or need representation in a child custody or contact application or in financial settlement proceedings the family law team at OTS Solicitors are here to help. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form so we can set up a skype, video conference or telephone appointment for you with one of our friendly and approachable specialist family law solicitors.

Stopping your ex taking you to court

When you separate from a partner or get divorced people often assume that the only way that you can resolve child custody and contact or secure a fair financial settlement is by starting court proceedings. You may know better and understand that there are alternatives to a court application, such as:

  • Direct discussions after you have both taken legal advice.
  • Solicitor negotiations that can be by phone, email or letter or meetings involving the two of you (referred to as roundtable meetings).
  • Family mediation after there has been financial disclosure (if you are mediating on a financial settlement) and after you have both taken legal advice and received mediation support.
  • Arbitration – this is like a private court or judge so tends to be quicker, tailored to your needs and confidentiality is assured.

If your ex doesn’t know about these options, or they think you are stalling, the likelihood is that they will want to start court proceedings. Once a court application has been started it can be hard to persuade an ex to stop court proceedings to mediate or to negotiate whilst you are mid-way through the court process. That’s why it is best to have a proactive family law solicitor on your side to:

  • Explain your non-court-based resolution options to you.
  • Work out with you which non-court-based option best suits your needs and circumstances.
  • Contact your ex or their solicitor to recommend the use of a non-court-based option to reach a resolution over child custody, contact or financial matters.
  • Advise you on likely outcomes if you were to be a party to children or financial proceedings so you know whether what your ex offers as a ‘deal’ would be considered reasonable by a family court.
  • Use their expertise to help you reach a fair settlement that you understand and are comfortable with.
  • Ensure that any agreement reached is properly documented, for example, in a separation agreement, childcare plan or financial court order.

Stopping your ex taking you back to court

Many people have had the experience of going to court to sort out financial matters or to secure or respond to a child arrangement order or a specific issue order application. Most never want to repeat the experience because of the emotional and financial costs involved in family law proceedings. They want to know if there is anything that they can do to stop their ex from being able to take them back to court.

The answer depends on the type of court application your ex could potentially start:

  • Children court proceedings – if the court makes a child arrangement order or specific issue order or prohibited steps order a parent can apply back to court to vary or discharge the order at any time before the child reaches the age of sixteen (or later if the order lasts longer than that). In rare cases the court can be persuaded to make a ‘barring order’ under section 91(14) of the Children Act 1989. This type of order stops a parent from being able to make a court application without first getting permission from the court to make their children law application and is intended to stop a parent from making repeated and unreasonable applications.
  • Financial proceedings – if you secure a financial court order from the court your ex may be able to bring repeat financial court applications unless you obtain what family lawyers refer to as a ‘financial clean break order’. This type of order can be made by agreement between husband and wife or after contested financial court proceedings. A clean break capital and income order stops any future financial claims against a spouse. Any additional financial court proceedings can only be started if they relate to enforcing the order, for example, an application for an order about the mechanism for achieving the sale of the family home if the original financial court order required the family home to be sold. If you can't agree on a clean break and your financial court order includes spousal maintenance provision, then either one of you could apply back to court to either discharge the spousal maintenance order or to vary the amount of spousal maintenance upwards or downwards. A specialist family law solicitor may try to reduce the risk of future court proceedings by advising on the benefits of a clean break order or may attempt to minimise the prospects of spousal maintenance variation applications by including provision for spousal maintenance to be increased in accordance with inflation or the retail price index.

Understanding the risks of your ex starting court proceedings in the future and how you can best avoid a court application requires specialist legal advice from an experienced family law solicitor as you are trying to look at and assess the potential future trigger points for a court application and working out how best to avoid them.


If you need help with responding to a court application brought by your ex or require representation in financial or children law proceedings, then the family law team at OTS Solicitors are here to advise and represent you and to answer your family law questions. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form so we can set up a skype, video conference or telephone appointment for you with one of our friendly and approachable divorce and family law solicitors.

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