Although the person starting divorce proceedings, known as the Petitioner, can seek a financial contribution from their spouse, or the Respondent, in most cases the Petitioner will be liable for their own costs when obtaining a financial settlement.

ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) is the umbrella term given to resolving family law disputes. If the divorcing parties are unable to negotiate a direct agreement, there are typically three options available, which may help resolve issues, before they go down the potentially expensive and acrimonious route of Court proceedings.

Mediation

In Mediation, an independent third party assists the separating couple to reach agreement through negotiations. Mediators are trained professionals that do not take sides in the discussion, but will rather offer legal advice on the issues being discussed. If an agreement is reached, a document can be then be drawn up and put before Court for approval, so it becomes legally binding.

Mediation tends to be cheaper alternative to parties using solicitors to negotiate and is generally required before an application to Court can be made. More information on Mediation can be found at www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk.

Collaborative Law

A less usual choice for separating couples is Collaborative Law, in which both parties meet with their specially-trained Collaborative Lawyer and try and negotiate an agreement. Collaborative Law requires each party to enter into an agreement that commits them to find resolutions to their issues without going to court.

This can be more expensive than Mediation and, if negotiations break down, each party has to appoint a new solicitor to represent them. One of the benefits of Collaborative Law is that if successful, it can be cheaper and quicker that Court proceedings. More information on Collaborative Law can be found here, www.resolution.org.uk/find_a_collaborative_lawyer.

Arbitration

Arbitration is more commonly used in Commercial disputes; however, it is an option available in Family disputes and is becoming increasingly popular.

An Arbitrator is appointed by the parties and can make a decision about your dispute, having considered all the evidence before them. The decision, referred to as an Award, is binding. Although the cost of Arbitration varies, it is quicker than the Court process and the parties can agree on how the costs will be paid. More information on Arbitration can be found here, www.resolution.org.uk/find_an_arbitrator.