Dispute Resolution Options

Do not think that the only option to resolving a dispute is to go to court, there are various other options, and these are considered below.

Your solicitor will discuss these with you to help you decide which is the best option for you.

OptionProsCons
DIY negotiations between yourselves
  • Saves on legal costs
  • Easy to arrange
  • It can be quick to reach an agreement
  • Can be misunderstandings/arguments
  • Can damage relationship further if goes wrong
  • Can lead to entrenched positions which affect future negotiations
  • Could feel under pressure to agree to unfair terms
  • Can be difficult to talk face to face
  • No advice available during discussions
  • Both parties must agree and be willing to compromise
Solicitor negotiation
  • Clear and avoids misunderstandings
  • Able to set out rationale for proposal
  • Record of offers and responses
  • Can reach a quick resolution
  • Can avoid you having to have face to face discussions
  • Can include face to face discussions with solicitors present if you prefer
  • Can be protracted at times
  • Can feel less personal
  • Language used can be unhelpful
  • Both parties must agree settlement terms and will involve some compromise
Mediation
  • Face to face discussions so more personal
  • Mediator keeps discussion focused on the issues
  • Can have advice between mediation sessions
  • Face to face discussions can be uncomfortable
  • Doesn’t provide a binding agreement
  • No advice during the discussions
  • Can be protracted
  • Both parties must agree settlement terms and be willing to compromise
“Hybrid” mediation when solicitors are included
  • Usually resolved in half or one day
  • Have the benefit of advice and support throughout
  • Mediator keeps the discussions focused on the issues
  • Solicitors can draw up binding agreement at the end
  • Cost of mediator and solicitor involvement
  • Can feel pressured
  • Both parties must agree settlement terms and be willing to compromise
Collaborative Family Law
  • Commitment to the process and avoiding court
  • Solicitors steer the discussions
  • Supported throughout
  • Solicitors can draw up a binding agreement
  • Both parties must have Collaboratively trained lawyers
  • Both parties must agree to the process
  • Both parties must agree terms
  • Can be expensive because of the length of and number of meetings
  • If process breaks down will need to instruct a new lawyer
Early neutral evaluation.

A solicitor or barrister is employed to provide an opinion either in writing or during an evaluation meeting

  • Receive impartial third-party opinion from an experienced family law expert
  • Timescales are based around your availability and needs
  • Opinion usually helps the negotiations significantly and leads to a settlement
  • Additional costs of the evaluator
  • Can be costs of representation in an evaluation meeting
  • Opinion not binding, still must agree terms
Arbitration
  • Like a private court
  • Process tailored to issues in your case
  • Timescale tailored to your needs
  • Can save costs compared to court
  • Quicker than court
  • Arbitrator can make binding decision
  • Get to choose experienced judge
  • Consistency of adjudicator
  • Confidential process with no media involvement
  • Must pay the arbitrators fees
  • Both parties must agree to arbitrate
  • No ability to enforce compliance with case management steps
Court
  • No separate fees for the judges’ time
  • Can enforce compliance with orders/timetable
  • Both parties do not have to agree to use process, can start it unilaterally
  • Process is designed to help reach an agreement before a trial is necessary
  • Mediation must be considered before applying unless it is an urgent application
  • Can be protracted
  • Process can be “clunky” with little ability to take short cuts
  • Usually most expensive for legal fees
  • No consistency in the judge dealing with the case
  • No guarantee that judge comes from a family law background
  • Hearings can be cancelled at short notice
  • Must consider mediation before applying unless it is an urgent application, even if mediation is not viable
  • Proceedings can be reported in the media

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