Your options

Mediation

Mediation is an effective way of resolving disputes without need for costly contested court proceedings.  It involves using an independent third party – a specialist family mediator – to help the parties reach a fair and acceptable outcome.

LMP were at the forefront of the movement towards mediation. Simon Pigott was chair of the Family Mediators’ Association for two years (1995 – 1997)  and remains today one of its leading proponents.

Mediation is a voluntary process and can only take place if you and your spouse/partner agree. Confidential discussions are not disclosed outside the mediation, nor can they be referred to in Court proceedings.  There is, however, no such thing as confidential financial disclosure.

If you are unable to reach agreement in mediation, you can still rely on other types of Alternative Dispute Resolution (for example Private FDRs or Arbitration) or the Court system.

You normally share the cost of mediation, which will vary depending on the issues to be discussed, and the time to be invested in the process. You can consider engaging in mediation at any stage – even before entering the court process. The mediator remains impartial and neutral throughout.

Mediation is certainly not an easy option. You may not have seen or spoken to each other for some time and there may be difficult emotional and/or complex financial issues to deal with in the course of the mediation.

Parties in mediation have to work hard to reach a solution that works for them and their family, and it is the role of the specialist family mediator to facilitate those discussions.

At the end of the mediation process, the mediator will produce a summary of your decisions.  This summary can be used by your respective solicitors to form the basis of a binding agreement or Court Order.

 

Mediation has many benefits:

  • enabling you to retain responsibility for your life and ownership of important decisions;
  • reducing hostility, bitterness and misunderstandings;
  • improving communication between yourselves; and
  • promoting positive co-parenting.

 

Where necessary mediation focuses on the needs of children to achieve sensible, lasting and workable arrangements.

For more information about mediation please contact Simon Pigott: [email protected]

For more information about Mediation please contact:

Simon Pigott
[email protected]

Your options

Collaborative Law

In the collaborative process, the clients and their lawyers work together in a series of meetings to achieve a fair and mutually acceptable solution to the issues in dispute.

 

How does the process work?

  • At the outset, you and your lawyers will sign an agreement that outlines the objectives of the process and a commitment that you will not start court proceedings.
  • You will agree to be respectful, cooperative and truthful, and work together to find amicable solutions.
  • There will be a series of four-way meetings between you, your spouse/partner and your respective lawyers during which information will be exchanged and negotiations will progress.
  • You will be encouraged to find creative and individual solutions tailored to your family’s circumstances.
  • Once a consensus has been reached, your lawyers will prepare a settlement agreement. Thereafter it is submitted to the court for approval and converted into an order of the Court.

 

Why choose the collaborative process?

  • You retain control of the process by participating at each stage.
  • You and your spouse/partner are each supported by your legal advisers throughout.
  • You avoid potentially acrimonious, stressful and protracted court proceedings.
  • You make decisions and avoid the uncertainty of a court-imposed timetable and outcome.
  • The process can help to improve or consolidate family relationships, this having long-term advantages, particularly when co-parenting.

Your options

Arbitration

Arbitration is another form of Alternative Dispute Resolution and involves the parties entering into an agreement under which they appoint an arbitrator to adjudicate their dispute and make an arbitral ‘award’.  That award is legally binding.

Arbitration is available for financial disputes and those relating to arrangements for children.

 

Who is the arbitrator?

The Institute of Family Law Arbitrators (IFLA) is the professional body governing the work of arbitrators, all of whom are examined and must qualify as an arbitrator.  We can recommend a suitable arbitrator to assist with your case, always with an eye to the specific facts and circumstances.

 

Why arbitration?

There are numerous benefits to arbitration including:

  • Control: the parties can jointly appoint the arbitrator which means you can dictate who is involved in important decision making for your family;
  • Continuity: you will benefit from knowing that the same individual will adjudicate for you throughout;
  • Flexibility: you can discuss and agree the scope of the arbitration, as it is sometimes the case that arbitration is used to resolve one discrete issue preventing settlement;
  • Privacy: in some cases, the parties are motivated by a desire for confidentiality and protection from reporting (that can follow high profile cases in court); and
  • Convenience: you can agree the when, where and how, including whether the arbitration should proceed in person or on paper.

Your options

Private FDRs

A Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment (FDR) provides an opportunity for you to negotiate within the framework of Court proceedings and follows the exchange of financial disclosure.  The FDR is designed to assist the parties narrow the issues between them and, if possible, reach an agreement.

The FDR is conducted by a Judge who, having reviewed the facts of the case, will share his / her view as to likely outcome.  That ‘indication’ should inform the negotiations and define the parameters for settlement.

A Private Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment (PFDR) operates in the same way, with the aim of achieving settlement.  In comparison to a Court FDR however, you have more control over the process with a PFDR.  Importantly, you (via us) can appoint the tribunal (often referred to as the Judge) – normally a senior barrister or QC.  All concerned will also elect a mutually convenient date and location for the PFDR.

There are no time constraints with a PFDR, as you and your legal representatives are committed for the day, with a focus on constructive negotiation and settlement.

In advance of the PFDR, each party will make and receive an offer for settlement.  These offers are also shared with the Judge so that s/he has time to carefully review your respective positions and provide an informed and detailed indication on the day.

Whilst opting to go private creates an additional layer of cost (usually the fee of the jointly appointed Judge), that cost is outweighed by the many advantages of the PFDR including:

  • a sense of ownership in the process;
  • convenience;
  • a commitment on both sides to negotiate, more often than not resulting in settlement;
  • the freedom to appoint the Judge;
  • the knowledge that the Judge will be prepared for the PFDR with a detailed understanding of the intricacies of the case;
  • a more relaxed environment than a busy Court building, as the PFDR is usually hosted in the Judge’s Chambers.

Your options

Solicitor-led Negotiation

In some cases, negotiations are conducted via the solicitors representing each of you, often in writing.  You will work alongside your solicitor throughout the negotiations to ensure that your objectives are met and that you position yourself fairly and sensibly in the negotiations.

Where parties can agree matters via their solicitors, whether in relation to finances or arrangements for the children, there are advantages including:

  • expediency: it can be swifter than court proceedings which can become protracted;
  • control: you have greater involvement in the process and ownership of the final decision;
  • cost: it can be more cost effective for you to resolve disputes outside of the court arena.

Your options

Round Table Meetings

A Round Table Meeting is designed to help you reach an agreement, whether in relation to financial matters or arrangements for children.

At the meeting, you will both be supported by your solicitor (and often a barrister too) who guides the negotiations and facilitates discussions with the other party (and their legal team).  Importantly, you both have an equal right to participate.

Unlike a Private FDR, there is no Judge (or formal tribunal).  It is for the parties to agree the scope of their negotiations and establish opportunities for agreement.

Round Table Meetings can be helpful when both sets of solicitors are negotiating in writing but would like to increase the pace of the discussions.

Whilst you need not sit around the same table (in some cases, the parties prefer separate rooms), the act of getting together often leads to a meeting of minds and a commitment to reach a fair and reasonable outcome.

As with other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution, a Round Table Meeting affords the parties the opportunity to control the outcome and can be an effective way to overcome ‘deal breakers’.

Your options

Court

In some cases, and despite best efforts to deploy Alternative Dispute Resolution, a Court application is essential.  That may be when:

  • negotiations break down or stall;
  • urgency dictates that the involvement of the Court is necessary and should be expedited;
  • the intransigence of a party to engage in constructive discussion may force the other party’s hand;
  • there is an unwillingness to assist with requests for information, for example in the case of financial disclosure;
  • an application that will give rise to a binary decision requires judicial input, for example if one parent seeks permission to move to another country.

We can advise as to when a court application is necessary and will guide you throughout.

We have, of course, access to the very best barristers who will, at any necessary stage, advise and represent your interests through the court process.