Support for you

Alternatives to Court

Court isn’t always the best place to air your differences when a relationship breaks down. It is often expensive and court proceedings can take a long time to be resolved.

We will always discuss with you whether there are alternatives to the Court process which could be considered. In fact, in most cases, the Court expect anyone wishing to make an application about the arrangements for their children or regarding their finances, to have attended an initial meeting with a Family Mediator to see if the mediation process could help resolve matters.

Our lawyers can advise you on the different methods of resolution available and which would be most suitable for your particular circumstances.  We have an accredited Family Mediator in the team and two trained Collaborative Family Lawyers.


Family Mediation

Family Mediation aims to give separating couples the opportunity to reach agreements without the need for court action.

At BPE we can provide a safe, confidential and supportive environment for you and your partner to discuss, and agree, future arrangements regarding your children, finances and property, allowing you both to look forward to the future.

Mediation puts the control back in your hands, allowing you to decide the arrangements, unlike court proceedings, where a Judge will dictate what must happen.  We understand the stresses and difficulties that are often faced during separation and work with you to ensure the best outcome is achieved for everyone involved.

A mediator is completely impartial and as such, they cannot give you any legal advice but can provide a wealth of information about the law and the Court’s approach in similar cases.

Our trained in-house Family Mediator, Helen Cankett is accredited by the Family Mediation Council and has over a wealth of experience in assisting couples with the thorny issues that inevitably arise on family breakdown.


Collaborative Family Law

Collaborative Family Law is another way of resolving disputes between yourself and your former partner through negotiation. 

This process involves both parties and their respective Collaborative Lawyers signing up to an agreement that they will not go to Court to resolve matters.  You will both need to appoint your own Collaborative Lawyer and a series of “four-way” meetings will then take place to negotiate and agree on any issues in dispute.

A key benefit of collaborative law is that we are able to advise you and support you to negotiate the best possible outcome.  As an experienced team of family lawyers, we can help you to achieve your objectives and to work together to resolve your issues. 

Should the process not end in agreement for any reason, each person will need to appoint new legal advisors but this is often then another incentive for an agreement to be reached.

It is also possible to involve other professionals in the process such as financial advisors (who act in a neutral capacity to assist the couple together) or coaches (who can assist couples with the emotional side of the separation).



What is family arbitration?

Arbitration is frequently used in commercial law but is also an option to consider when looking to resolve family matters, particularly those involving finances and arrangements for children.  An arbitrator is an independent expert chosen by you (with guidance from your lawyer if needed) who will then make a decision on the matters which you are struggling to agree on.

How can family arbitration help you?

Arbitration is similar to court in that the decision is legally binding however you have much more control over the situation than you would with a court process.  You can choose a specialist in the particular area you are struggling to agree on which could involve complex finance matters or arrangements for children with specific needs.  You as a couple can decide when and how the arbitration takes place and even if the arbitrator is engaged to resolve a single issue they can, if you wish, include all other agreed matters in their decision so that they also become binding on both parties.  You can continue to be supported by us throughout the process and the process is completely confidential. It could be more cost effective than a court process and the flexibility of arbitration in terms of when and how it takes place is often very appealing to couples who are juggling other work and family commitments.


Private Financial Dispute Resolution (FDRs)

What is a private FDR?

An FDR is a Financial Dispute Resolution hearing.  Usually these hearings take place at court as part of formal proceedings. However, it is possible to arrange a “private” FDR outside of Court whereby a legal professional such as a solicitor, barrister or retired judge, acts as the judge to assist the couple. 

What are the benefits of a private FDR?

As with other forms of alternative dispute resolution, a private FDR can take place at a time and location to suit you as a couple. 

Costs for a private FDR are split between both parties and are likely to be less than taking the matter to court.  As this is a private session, it is not restricted by time as a court matter might be and can usually be arranged quicker than a court listing if needed.  The process is tailored to the matters both parties are looking to resolve with the private FDR judge having time in advance to read through all supporting information.


Round Table Meetings

Round table meetings are a more informal way of negotiating and involve a meeting attended by both parties as well as their solicitors.  They can be used to negotiate a settlement on a range of issues as a result of separation or divorce and are very flexible.  Often each party will have discussions in a room with their own legal advisor before joining the other party in another room to negotiate. 

If you would like to explore the possibility of alternative methods rather than court, a member of our team can discuss the best options for you and guide you through the process.

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Talk to us about your legal challenges and discover how our expert, pragmatic legal advice and broad commercial acumen can help.