Mediation and Collaborative Law

At Selby Lowndes Solicitors we can offer an alternative to the more traditional ways of resolving difficult disputes between couples: mediation or collaborative law.

Neither of these approaches involves having to go to court, in fact during the collaborative process all parties, including the lawyers, sign a contract not to go to court.


Mediation is now compulsory (except in certain circumstances, for example where there has been domestic violence) where court proceedings are issued in relation to children or finances. Both parties have to go and see a trained mediator together. The idea is that the mediator can help the parties come to an agreement without ever having to go to court.

The mediator does not have to be a lawyer but in family cases, specialist family lawyers can bring valuable experience and expertise to the process. When mediation works well, it allows both parties to come to an agreement by entering into direct negotiation and discussion with each other and hopefully the emotional and financial costs are minimised. Mediation can also result in tailor made agreements, and allows the parties to remain in control of the process.

Collaborative Law

Is a comparatively new process for resolving disputes. It involves a series of round table meetings known as 4 way meetings where each party has their solicitor present. There is no set format for the meetings, simply that they are conducted in a way that suits the parties best. Accountants, financial advisors, and property and pension experts may be asked to attend the meetings so that more complex issues can be fully understood.

The crucial element of collaborative law is that all parties sign a contract agreeing not to go to court. If the dispute cannot be resolved collaboratively, and court proceedings do become necessary, then both parties have to engage new lawyers.

The idea is that negotiations will proceed with less acrimony and be less costly than traditional court proceedings, and that the eventual agreement, and the way in which it reached, can be tailored specifically to the needs of the parties.

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