Since 6 April 2011, all separating couples who wish to commence court proceedings to resolve issues concerning children or finances on divorce must first consider whether mediation would be an appropriate way of settling their dispute. In many cases it may not be, but the court increasingly wish to be clear that mediation has been considered fully before the litigation proceeds.

We believe that mediation works best when it is conducted by a mediator who is also a specialist family lawyer. As a result, the settlement achieved is more likely to be workable.

Clarke Willmott offer family and divorce mediation (along with other methods of out of court resolution such as collaborative law) as a means of resolving difficult issues, which couples face when going through a separation.

In addition we can provide legal advice during the mediation process to guide you on the terms of your settlement and can also give one off advice on the settlement that is reached.

Collaborative law

Collaborative Law is a different way of dealing with divorce or separation. It is separate and distinct from a co-operative or conciliatory approach to negotiations. It allows couples to achieve a mutually acceptable agreement in a dignified manner. The aim is to avoid having a decision imposed on them by a judge which both may well find unacceptable and which is often extremely expensive, and divisive.

It does not suit every couple, and requires both to wish to participate freely, openly and actively. In the Collaborative Law process, couples and their lawyers sign an agreement stating that they will not go to Court to resolve the issues between them.

The couple and their lawyers then work at a series of meetings aimed at resolving their financial separation, and any issues arising concerning care of their children. The solution is often one that works better than one achieved via litigation, as it is reached by consensus. Many couples find it an extremely rewarding process. We can discuss with you whether this is appropriate for your situation.

Once in the formal collaboration process, if either party wishes to go to Court then both lawyers have to stop acting and new advisors have to be instructed. Both therefore need to be committed to the process from the start.


Family arbitration is the process of appointing someone to determine the appropriate settlement of property and finances in a case. It is a method of alternative dispute resolution and the aim is to reach a sensible outcome more quickly and with less expense than the route through the court. It is also entirely confidential.

The process can be tailored to meet the parties’ specific requirements both in terms of timings for each stage, and what the arbitrator is asked to determine. The arbitrator may decide upon the whole financial settlement or upon specific elements of it.

Arbitration will not be suitable for everyone, particularly if there are concerns over complex or hidden assets. It requires both parties to fully engage in the process and to be open with each other.

Contact our family law team

Contact us to speak to a family law solicitor about our mediation and collaborative law services.

Call us now on 0800 422 0123 or contact us online.