"I want to keep this out of court - what should I do?"

If you can keep any disputes out of court it is usually better to do so to avoid the cost, delay and uncertainty of litigation. Conflict or dispute resolution can take on many forms including mediation, collaboration and arbitration.

Family mediation

Family mediation is a process where you and your ex meet with an independent third-party specialist family mediator. The mediator facilitates your discussions to encourage you to reach agreement about whatever issues you wish to discuss including arrangements for the children, finances and the ownership of any property

It is usually sensible for you to receive independent legal advice during the mediation process to ensure that you are well informed about your respective legal positions.


The advantages of mediation include:

  • You and your ex partner retain control of both the process and the outcome
  • The mediator is there to help address any imbalance between you and to help break any impasse in your discussions
  • It can help to maintain a level of co-operation between you and your ex, unlike the adversarial nature of court.  It can improve your communication, which can be particularly important if you have children
  • It is usually much cheaper and quicker than litigation or dealing with matters through solicitors

Civil mediation

It is also possible to attend a full day’s mediation meeting with a specially qualified civil or commercial mediator. This is commonly used in property-only disputes and can be successful in resolving tricky issues or disputes where there has been a lot of conflict. You would usually attend the meeting with your lawyer to try to reach a settlement and so to avoid either issuing court proceedings or attending a final court hearing if proceedings have reached that stage.  

The advantages of civil mediation include:

  • You retain more control over the process and the outcome than you would in litigation
  • The dispute is hopefully resolved in a day, although a lot of work will have been done prior to the mediation session in terms of information gathering and establishing your case
  • You have the support of your legal team throughout the process
  • It is cheaper than continuing with litigation

Collaborative law

You and your ex work together with your respective specially trained collaborative lawyers to resolve issues through face-to-face meetings.  All parties sign an agreement preventing the collaborative lawyers from continuing to represent their clients if discussions break down and it is necessary to go to court. This is the incentive for everyone, including the lawyers, to get you to an agreement.

The advantages of collaborative law are the same as those of family mediation but the difference is that you have the support of your lawyer through the process, including during the meetings and not just in the background as they can be with mediation.


Unlike mediation and collaborative law, which are both aimed at helping you and your ex reach agreement, an arbitrator will make the decision for you. However, it is important to remember that you are bound by this decision.
The advantages of arbitration include:

  • It is more flexible than court as you agree the timetable and how it will be dealt with in practice
  • It is usually much quicker than going to court
  • You can choose your arbitrator but you cannot choose your judge
  • Although there is a cost for the arbitrator, it is usually much cheaper than the litigation.

Our expert family and cohabitation lawyers are trained in all areas of mediation, collaboration and arbitration and will work hard to avoid going to court and secure a successful outcome for you and your family.

Expert legal advice

For more information or an informal chat about your next steps, contact us on 0344 326 0450 or email us.

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