Alternatives to a contentious divorce – the benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution

For most people, divorce is stressful and worry about the future is made worse by disputes with the other party involved. 

With communication often limited to correspondence between solicitors, there is scope for a relationship to deteriorate during the divorce process where issues cannot be decided upon amicably. 

Many couples are not aware of the options open to them when it comes to settling disagreements in divorce or separation. A range of alternative dispute resolution processes exist and using them often means that a couple can avoid court entirely. 


Negotiation, guided by an expert family lawyer, can help you understand what you might realistically expect from a divorce settlement. It is a good way of at least starting to reach agreement on certain issues and finding out where the sticking points are that may need other forms of intervention. It can involve meetings between both parties and their solicitors as well as correspondence. 


Mediation is a popular way of resolving difficulties in divorce arrangements, for both financial matters and issues relating to children. In fact, it is a requirement of the courts that mediation is at least considered before legal proceedings are issued. 

The parties will sit down with a neutral mediator who will help them understand their options and explore whether there are areas of agreement. A decision can be reached between the parties, but the mediator will not impose a result on them. The process is generally faster and more cost-effective than litigation and can help the parties maintain a more amicable relationship. 


Arbitration is similar to mediation, but the arbitrator can impose a binding decision on the parties, which they will be required to abide by. You can ask an arbitrator to make a ruling on all aspects of your divorce or on a single issue.  

Collaborative law 

In the collaborative law process, each party will instruct a trained collaborative lawyer and the four individuals will sit down together to try and resolve matters. The lawyers will work to try and find an acceptable agreement. If the negotiations break down, the parties agree not to use their collaborative lawyer in future proceedings. 

The benefits of alternative dispute resolution 

Alternative dispute resolution is almost always quicker than court proceedings and often cheaper. It has proved particularly useful while courts are facing a backlog and it also avoids the risk of a hearing being called off at the last minute at great expense. 

It can avoid the risk of having a result imposed on you that you did not want. It can also help the parties to work together to find an acceptable solution. This is particularly valuable when there are children involved and the parties will continue to have contact and will need to communicate and agree on issues in the future as part of their joint parenting. 

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