A better way to separate


Family Dispute Resolution Week takes place each year at the end of November. The aim of the week is to raise awareness to ensure that you understand you can choose a better way to separate for you, your family and your future.

Do you know about the alternatives to Court that are available to you?

You may have an idea of a family lawyer as someone wanting to make money out of people’s sadness. You may not want to go to Court and fear that lawyers will encourage litigation. You may worry that your divorce will take years to complete and will cost you thousands of pounds.

You may be surprised to know that for many family lawyers Court is the last resort and the subject least talked about. You may also be surprised to know that many regional groups of family lawyers meet regularly to discuss innovative ways of resolving family disputes in the most cost effective ways.

Rarely when a couple divorce or separate would you choose to become enemies, particularly where there are children concerned. If you are considering separating but cannot reach your own agreement or you want to understand your rights and the implications of any agreements and decisions in a co-operative and amicable way you may want to consider the following options:-


Mediation is a structured process to help couples who have decided to separate or divorce talk things through and attempt to find their own solution with the help of a trained impartial mediator. It is often difficult to talk face to face when emotions are running high and mediation assists you keeping communication channels open and can help your children by showing that you are working together to resolve issues.

Mediation is a flexible process and you both set the agenda for the points you wish to discuss during mediation. The aim of mediation is to help you both reach practice solutions which feel fair for both of you and your family. Mediation can be hugely beneficial as it can help reduce tensions that you may be experiencing following a family breakdown and for you to move forward.

Collaborative Law

Discussions take place in a series of four way meetings between you and your spouse or partner and their collaborative lawyers. As part of the process, everyone, including the lawyers agree at the outset not to make application to Court and if one party did make an application, both collaborative lawyers are prevented from representing either party in the Court proceedings.

Collaborative law gives you a greater degree of influence over the outcome of your divorce. It explores different options and considers alternative outcomes. This means that the process is not restricted to what the Court would do or what individual legal rights apply. As a result the solutions that are reached in collaborative law tend to be more individual, imaginative and tailored to the needs of the individuals involved.


Arbitration is the newest alternative to Court proceedings for family cases. It has been developed to enable parties to resolve disputes more quickly, cheaply and in a more flexible and less formal setting than a Court room. It is a process where parties enter into an agreement under which they appointment a suitably qualified person “an arbitrator” to adjudicate a dispute and make an award.

In many cases, there may be a saving of overall costs over Court proceedings. You can define the scope of the arbitration and this can also be limited to discreet issues. It is possible for an arbitration to be completed on paper. You have the right to choose your arbitrator and the same arbitrator will deal with all stages of the case from start to finish.

I will explore each of these options with you at our Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting and guide you as to the best process for you.

Clare Madeline Mediation

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