27th Jul 2021

Using Alternative Dispute Resolution in Family Breakdown

Using Alternative Dispute Resolution in Family Breakdown

On 8th July 2021, FLiP Consultant Gillian Bishop joined other family law experts at a roundtable organised by Irwin Mitchell to raise awareness of the alternative dispute resolution processes available to resolve disputes over money or children following the breakdown of relationships.

Prior to the discussion, Irwin Mitchell had carried out a survey involving 1,000 divorced individuals. Almost two thirds were aware of the option of alternative dispute resolution processes with a quarter regretting that they did not use arbitration or mediation as the process option rather than going down the traditional court route.

Using alternative dispute resolution processes rather than relying on the court process is becoming an increasingly popular choice. It is a route supported by the most senior Judge in England & Wales, Lord Burnett of Maldon, who has expressed the opinion that litigation should not be the first port of call when things go wrong in relationships. Indeed, this is further supported by The Surrey Initiative and by the report of the Family Solutions Group (November 2020) both of which strongly encourage the use of outside court process options where appropriate.

At Family Law in Partnership, we have led the way in the practice of alternative dispute resolution to help minimise acrimony when relationships breakdown. We have a leading practice across all dispute resolution processes including going to court, mediation, arbitration, private FDRs, solicitor led negotiation and we have a leading collaborative practice. At the roundtable discussion, Gillian Bishop identified the benefits of both mediation and the collaborative process when seeking solutions to family breakdown. Gillian commented:

“Mediation creates a safe space for separating couples to discuss the issues regarding their money and their children but with the help of a neutral mediator….if you’ve got two people who are intent on resolving their issues in a sensible, amicable way, in a way that does the least damage to their children, and I think that that is actually the majority of the divorcing and separating population, they will be intent on finding a way that does that.”

“[The collaborative process is] the next step up on the spectrum of ways of resolving these issues in terms of the involvement of third parties….. the separating couple still have huge amounts of autonomy in what’s discussed and what’s agreed but they each have their own lawyer and they have the lawyer, the lawyers and the couple collectively sign an agreement not to go to Court and that’s a binding agreement between the four of them….. so the emphasis is very much on rolling up your sleeves, working out what the problems are, working through them and coming to solutions that work for the couple and the family as a whole and then when other experts are needed, for example financial advisers or child specialists, those experts are brought in as a joint expert for the couple.”

At FLiP we help our clients to make informed decisions about how best to resolve matters. One of the first steps is to identify the process option best suited to their particular case. We ensure that our clients understand the benefits of each process option, providing first rate legal guidance and clarity around the options.

For more information on our distinctive approach to the resolution of family law issues click here.

For expert family law advice on divorce or separation, please contact any of our top London divorce lawyers at Family Law in Partnership on 020 7420 5000 or contact us at: hello@flip.co.uk