Divorce or separation can be hard, and going to court can only add pressure to the process.

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Mark Harrop and Farhana Shahzady, who are both directors, solicitors, mediators and collaborative lawyers from the Family Law Partners team in London, are here to discuss some alternative dispute resolution processes so you can avoid going to court, separate amicably and begin looking forward to the future.


Mediation is a voluntary process where an independent, professionally-trained mediator helps you find solutions to issues you’re experiencing when going through a divorce, separation or dissolution of a civil partnership and all the related issues involving finances and children.

Mediation is a safe and constructive place for open and honest conversations to take place and our mediators will skilfully guide you in your discussions to help you find a way forward after divorce or separation. The job of the mediator is to seek to bring everyone together to reach a fair resolution.

One of the key benefits of mediation is its flexibility and its lower cost. Mediation can be conducted at a pace that suits you and your partner, unlike the court process which can be slow and inconvenient. It also allows you both to set the agenda and discuss what is important to you. Where appropriate, it may also be possible to involve your children, enabling their voices to be heard.

Costs of mediation are a fraction of those involved in court proceedings and so it’s definitely worth considering mediation in most cases.

Collaborative process

This process involves all parties, including collaboratively-trained family lawyers, sitting around a table to discuss and work through the issues surrounding your divorce or separation, instead of having decisions imposed upon you by the court.

Mark Harrop director, solicitor, mediator and collaborative lawyer at Family Law Partners. Photo: Family Law Partners

The collaborative process is completely confidential and it allows you to stay in control of your personal situation. This often establishes a more flexible, creative approach to financial and childcare arrangements than you may have had going with the traditional court process.

Solicitor-led negotiations

Solicitor-led negotiations can take place at any point during a divorce or separation and can often reduce conflict in the relationship, ultimately making the experience less stressful for everyone involved. It can also be used during court proceedings, to help negotiations.

Usually taking the form of round table meetings or telephone and letter correspondence, solicitor-led negotiation can be particularly useful for families where children are involved. It offers parents more control, and a chance for them to work together to decide the best care arrangements for their child. As with mediation and the collaborative process, a family consultant can be used to help with any emotional issues that are causing difficulty in reaching an agreement.


Arbitration is another dispute resolution process which can be used when you are not able to resolve issues during a divorce or separation. You will both need to agree on using the arbitration process and an arbitrator will spend time understanding the issues involved, whether it’s to do with finances or child arrangements. This will give you a fair, impartial and binding decision on the specific issue you have.

Arbitration is an effective alternative to the court deciding the way forward and, like the other dispute resolution processes, offers you greater control. The family courts are currently extremely stretched and the arbitration process is designed around your needs and timescales.

Farhana Shahzady, director, solicitor, mediator and collaborative lawyer at Family Law Partners. Photo: Family Law Partners

Emotional support

Family Law Partners have a network of family consultants and therapists available to reduce the emotional stress and impact for their clients throughout divorce or separation. We understand that there may be many emotions you experience during the course of your family law matter, including at the very start.

If you or your partner are not ready to approach negotiations and need some time to understand the issues involved before proceeding with the separation, we can point you in the right direction of an expert who can help.

Pre-nuptial agreements

To help you protect your assets in the event of divorce, our team are also highly trained in analysing and negotiating pre-nuptial agreements to ensure each individual would receive a fair and reasonable outcome in the future.

The team at Family Law Partners are experts in handling and leading alternative dispute resolution processes, including mediation and the collaborative process, to help you reach an outcome that you are happy with so that you feel ready to take the next steps in your life.

Visit www.familylawpartners.co.uk for more information. Alternatively, contact the London office on 020 3301 3276 or email enquiries@familylawpartners.co.uk for a confidential, no-obligation discussion about your individual situation.