Almost always, problems are best solved when people talk about their issues. However, sometimes you need a helping hand.

Emotions and tensions can run high upon separation and talking face to face may seem like an impossible task. Sometimes you need assistance to get the talking started. That’s where mediation comes in.

What is family mediation, and how could it work for me?

Mediation is a process that involves an independent, professional third party known as a “Mediator”. The Mediator will help the parties to work out arrangements in relation to both finances and children, following separation.

Mediation can also be used when the previous arrangements you’ve made are no longer working or agreed upon and need to be changed.

What are the advantages of mediation?

Family mediation can help you retain more control over your family’s future. It can assist you with making arrangements about parenting, property, and money. Mediation is significantly cheaper and less stressful than going to court with an ex-partner. Mediation can also include the children (should they wish to take part) and can mean that any children of the family can have their voice heard. Mediation can also help you reach an agreement and move on to the next stage in your life.

What are the disadvantages to mediation?

Any agreement reached in mediation is not legally binding so you would be best advised to revert to your legal representative (if matters concern finances) so that your solicitor can prepare the legally binding agreement which is known as the “Consent Order”.

Mediation is voluntary, so if one party refuses to mediate, you cannot force them to attend.

If mediation is not an option for you right now, then you may wish to explore other alternate dispute resolution options available to you, including direct discussions, resolution together, round table meetings, collaboration, and arbitration.

Direct Discussions

This is when you and your ex-partner just sit down and talk about the issues at hand, such as housing or arrangements for your children. This can be done anywhere, and in a format that works best for you, such as over a coffee or in a neutral location. It might be useful to have an agenda, just so you keep in mind what you want to cover, but it’s a good way of getting the conversation going. As it’s just you and your ex talking about things, it’s free and can be done whenever suits both of you.

However, this might not be a suitable option if you have an acrimonious relationship, think it could become aggressive or confrontational, or find it difficult to get your points across clearly.

Resolution Together

Via the organisation ‘Resolution’, of which all our team are members, you and your ex-partner can jointly instruct a single solicitor to advise you throughout a separation. This is a good option if you have a good relationship despite the separation and are able to communicate openly and honestly with each other about moving forward. Like direct discussions, this isn’t appropriate if you have an abusive or acrimonious relationship.

Round Table Meeting

A number of our team have used Round Table meetings to great effect. When a Round Table is scheduled for the right time in a matter, it can be a really useful way of negotiating through a number of issues. Both you and your ex-partner will have your lawyers present, and the meetings can last as long as is needed. Even if you don’t find a resolution, they are a good way of at least narrowing the issues.

A Round Table can save a lot of time by simply removing back and forth correspondence and as such, can save costs.

Collaborative Law

Collaborative lawyers are specifically trained as such. Following the collaborative law approach means you and your ex-partner will both instruct collaborative lawyers and you will all work together to resolve any issues.

The collaborative process can sometimes break down and if this happens, it would mean both of you need to instruct new solicitors. This can have cost implications just as your new solicitor will need to get up to speed with the case history.

Collaborative law is a fantastic way of working with an ex-partner and not being constrained or pushed by a court timetable.


Arbitration is the most formal route of alternative family solutions where you and your ex-partner will instruct a trained arbitrator who will deal with the matter. An arbitrator’s decision is legally binding and so it is a good option if you want to avoid court but still want an enforceable decision.

You can appoint an arbitrator at any point and they will deal with your case throughout which also means, unlike the court system, you have a single authority overseeing your case which means they will have a good understanding of all the issues and everyone involved.

With alternative family solutions, you don’t have to pick just one. It might be that you start with direct discussions, end up trying mediation, and find that a Round Table is the right option to get everything finally resolved. We are here to work with you and find the best, most cost-effective path during your separation.


It’s important to remember that no matter what option you go for unless you use arbitration, any agreed issues (such as what will happen to the previous family home) won’t be legally binding or enforceable unless you get the agreement ratified in a document called a consent order. This document is something that you would generally get a solicitor to draft, and a final version would be submitted to the court for approval. When signed off by the court, you would receive a copy and if you ever have any issues in the future, the court can hold someone to account based on the content of the order.

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Published: 5th February 2024
Area: Family

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When a relationship ends, it doesn’t mean financial issues or child arrangements have to be settled in court. Our mediation lawyers can help you reach a solution that works for you and your ex-partner, offering you more control and flexibility over the decisions being made


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