Many separating couples assume that the only way to proceed with their divorce is to take their case to court. However, with the English courts snowed under by an increasing backlog of cases, taking the litigation route means that couples are forced to wait months (or even years) before their divorce is finalised, prolonging the pain experienced by both parties, their children and their families. Taking a case to court can also be prohibitively expensive.

There are alternative ways of getting divorced that don’t involve taking your case to court. Non Court Dispute Resolution options are a quicker, less confrontational and often much less costly way of separating, meaning that couples can move on with their lives and begin the all-important healing process.

There are a range of alternatives available to avoid going to court. This can save months of waiting for a court hearing and are increasing popular as they offer parties more flexibility to help pick the best option for them.


All couples are required to consider Mediation and attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting before taking their case to court, unless certain circumstances justify not attending. This initial meeting can be done online, in person or by phone instead. With this approach, a trained and independent Mediator will assist the couple through the negotiation process, helping them to come to an agreement in a non-hostile and more informal setting. While the Mediator is not there to give legal advice, they have the expertise and legal knowledge needed to help you both reach an agreement on important issues such as children and financial issues. Children over 10 years old can also be included as part of the process

Once an agreement is reached your mediator will prepare a document for you to take to your solicitor.  Your solicitor can then prepare a court order to record your agreement. We recommended that you consult us during the mediation process and offer a “Mediation Support Service” to guide you through your negotiations to ensure you feel confident and remain in control of any negotiations.

Collaborative law

Collaborative family law is a non-confrontational approach to resolving issues following the breakdown of a relationship


The arbitration process is most similar to taking your case to court, but allows you to conduct proceedings in private and maintain much better control of the process. With this approach, the couple appoints an independent arbitrator to act in the capacity of a judge. Like a judge, they will collect the relevant facts and evidence upon which to base their decision on financial, property or child-related issues. Their decision, known as an “award”, will be final and legally binding.

Arbitration can be used to obtain decisions about money or arrangements for children. Arbitration gives couples certainty, knowing a decision will be made without the delay and expense of court proceedings.

Private Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) appointments

Private FDR Appointments are a great option when you need the convenience of making arrangements that suit you. A Private FDR will enable you to book a dedicated Judge to use exclusively on your case for the whole day. This increases the success rates of securing an agreement and saves months of waiting for a court hearing.

Round Table Meetings

Meeting in the absence of a Judge, Mediator or Arbitrator and supported by your solicitors, you and your former partner can come together to share ideas and try to resolve any issues. As your solicitors will be present a round table meeting encourages you to have direct conversations for effective negotiations. Open communication can be effective in the right situations.

Come to us

If you wish to avoid lengthy, contentious and costly court proceedings and would like to explore whether alternative dispute resolution options could work for you, then Attwaters Jameson Hill’s expert family lawyers are here to advise you. We understand how painful the separation process can be and will do everything in our power to make you feel comfortable and in control at all times during the process. Although this time in your life will never be easy, our lawyers will build up a relationship of trust with you, so that you know your case is in safe hands.

Email us at familylaw@attwaters.co.uk or call 0330 221 8855.

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