Alternative Dispute Resolution

ADR – resolving disputes through mediation, collaboration or arbitration

This guide outlines the various methods parties, involved a family dispute, can use to maximise the possibility of reaching an amicable agreement.


We will conduct all negotiations on your behalf and commence court proceedings only if, together, we consider these necessary in bringing the matter to a satisfactory conclusion. However, it may be appropriate for you to consider resolving your disputes through one of the alternative dispute resolution methods listed below. 

Family Mediation 

Family Mediation is a process whereby trained and experienced mediators work together with a couple on a voluntary basis to help them consider the options available and possible ways to reach an agreement, while trying to avoid pressure being placed on either one of them. This has the advantage of hopefully reducing conflict between the parties, as well as cost advantages if agreement can be reached, and it is often considerably quicker than issuing court proceedings.  

Once an agreement has been reached, the parties will receive a summary of what has been agreed and if asked for, an Open Financial Summary and a legally privileged document known as a Memorandum of Understanding setting out the proposals. Parties are still advised to seek legal advice in the course of mediation to ensure that the proposals made are sensible and where appropriate, to convert the agreement into a fully binding Court Order.

In some family proceedings, upon submitting an application to court, the applicant must (save in limited circumstances) be able to demonstrate that they have already attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting.

Mediators do not give legal advice, take sides or tell people what they ought to do and they have no power to impose decisions. A mediator’s role is to be non-judgmental and impartial, and to reduce conflict by encouraging couples to explore the options that may be available to them.

Collaborative law

Collaborative law is the process of resolving a family dispute, with the assistance of a Solicitor qualified as a Collaborative Lawyer,  in a series of open round table meetings with your ex-partner and their representative.

Collaborative lawyers are committed to helping their clients find the best solutions by agreement rather than conflict. To focus the parties minds on reaching an settling their agreement, all parties sign an agreement committing to the process. If the process subsequently breaks down fresh solicitors will have to be instructed by the couple before they can make an application to court.   

What makes collaborative law so successful, is that you still benefit from having your own independent legal advisor, but you are in control, without the threat of court proceedings hanging over you. You set the agenda, so you talk about the things that matter most to you and your family.


Whilst arbitration has a long history in commercial disputes it is a relatively new and innovative way forward in family law and has many advantages over the more traditional court system. 

Parties will enter into a written agreement, to attend Arbitration to address disputes regarding children and/or financial matters. The issues can be tailored to the parties needs and can cover the dispute in its entirety, or a narrower issue (i.e. the extent of a pension sharing order, or interest of a third party). 

The parties can choose their arbitrator, who will then continue to deal with their case throughout (which frequently does not happen in the Courts), they can move the matter ahead as quickly as they want (not being dependent on the lengthy court lists and procedure), the matter is entirely confidential and, whilst the parties do have to pay for the arbitrator’s fees and the cost of a venue if hired, the flexibility to limit disclosure and the ambit of the dispute and the potentially large saving of time, will in many cases lead to a net cost saving.

Parties agree in writing that they will be bound by the terms of the preliminary or final award made and in appropriate cases, agree for the matter to be placed before the Court for conversion into a consent order. (This is not necessary in cases where couples have not been married).