Frequently Asked Questions

Alternatives to Court

Is Mediation or Collaborative Law suitable for me?
Mediation and Collaborative Law may be a suitable alternative if you:

• Have a genuine desire to make the process work;

• Want to achieve a quicker, less costly, more creative, civilised and less stressful way of resolving a dispute;

• Are willing to disclose, fully and honestly, information about all assets;

• Are willing to commit to problem solving rather than focus on revenge or recriminations;

• Want to proceed at your own pace, without the threat of Court dates or timetables hanging over you;

• Want to maintain a good relationship with your former partner;

• Want to help your children cope better with your separation.

To book an appointment or to discuss which option may be suitable for you, call 0845 204 2020.

Is Mediation and Collaborative Law suitable for all cases?
In cases where communication has completely broken down or where ongoing domestic violence or abuse is involved, Mediation or Collaborative Law may not be suitable. This is a matter for the Mediator or Collaborative Lawyer to consider carefully in each case before deciding whether or not the case can proceed.

What is the difference between Mediation and Collaborative Law?
Although both procedures are alternatives to going to Court, the main difference between Mediation and Collaborative Law is that family lawyers are not present in Mediation and the proceedings are conducted by a neutral mediator who will not give advice on your individual position. In most cases the Mediator will usually recommend that each party obtain legal advice alongside the Mediation process.

Collaborative Law is sometimes referred to as ‘Mediation with Lawyers’ as the lawyers and their clients’ work together as a team in the same room and are committed to finding the best solution for both the parties.

Can I use Mediation or Collaborative Law for all types of cases?
Yes, Mediation or Collaborative Law can be used in any dispute where parents, divorcing or separating couples want a creative and civilised outcome instead of a decision imposed by a stranger in a courtroom. Mediation and Collaborative Law can be used in cases concerning all of the issues relating to or arising from the separation, divorce, children, finance or property.

I want an amicable settlement, are there alternatives to going to Court?
Yes, only 5-10% of cases go to a final Court hearing and the rest settle either before a court hearing or by the following alternative methods:

• Direct discussions – You can try and discuss issues with your partner direct (with or without guidance from lawyers) and come to an agreement. If you feel that this something you want to try, you may find professional advice and guidance will help you along the way.

• Negotiations through lawyers – In many cases matters can be resolved through lawyers, usually by correspondence and without going to court. At March Solicitors we encourage lateral thinking during negotiations by keeping the focus on the solutions rather than the problems to encourage the best solution for all those concerned.

• Mediation – Mediation is now recognised as one of the fastest and most cost-effective routes to achieving settlement of a dispute. Mediation is a process in which a professionally trained and neutral third person assists separating or divorcing couples to reach their own agreed and informed decisions in a safe, secure and confidential environment. The mediator does not take sides and does not offer legal advice, but is there to identify those issues you cannot agree on and help you to try and reach agreement.

• Collaborative Law – This is an approach built on mutual problem-solving where both parties and their lawyers agree to work together to negotiate an agreement without going to court. This means if the collaborative process breaks down, both parties will need to instruct new lawyers thereby creating a strong incentive for all those concerned to make the process work.

All issues are resolved by the parties and their lawyers having face-to-face, roundtable meetings where the focus is to find solutions by respectfully working together. If appropriate, other people, such as experts or financial advisers may also attend the meeting.