What is Alternate Dispute Resolution and why should you consider it?

Sally Clark Blog

Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) comes in many forms. The most common types of ADR used within family law disputes will be looked at in more detail below. ADR is a mechanism that can be utilised to resolve matters between parties and assist in reaching a settlement.

The Courts are stressing the need for the parties to try and use ADR to resolve matters, rather than entering into the Court arena. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • The use of ADR often avoids increasing conflict between parties, which in turn can help parties come to an agreement.
  • The Courts are inundated with the applications at the moment, with further delays having been caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Matters can be settled much quicker by ADR rather than going to Court, if successful.
  • It can be a more cost effective route. Court proceedings are costly. Using ADR can be a much cheaper alternative and it should be considered.

Types of ADR


Mediation is a process designed to help you and your ex-partner resolve issues regarding the care of your children and/or financial issues following separation, with the help of an impartial third party, the accredited mediator.

Family mediation is a two stage process. The first stage involves you having a face to face or virtual meeting with the mediator, this is known as a MIAMS appointment. The second stage takes place if both parties are willing to mediate and this comprises of joint sessions.  It is within those joint sessions that the mediator will try and assist both parties to reach an agreement.

If an agreement is reached during the mediation process, the mediator will draw up the agreement, which will be signed by them and both parties. The mediation agreement is confidential. Whilst not legally binding, as both parties have been able to reach the agreement together, it is hoped that this will be complied with. Within financial matters, any agreement may then be drawn up into a Court Order.

Here at Barnes Clark Family Law, we offer an accredited mediation service. For more information, please call us on 01423 637272 or 01274 861096.

Collaborative Law

This process involves you and your ex-partner each appointing a specially trained Collaborative Lawyer. The four of you will all sign a document known as a “Participation Agreement” where you all agree to resolve matters without initiating court proceedings.

The process involves a series of four way meetings with you and your specially trained collaborative lawyers, with negotiations taking place in the hope an agreement can be reached. If this process breaks down, both parties have to find new legal representation.

Our Sally Clark is our specially trained and experienced Collaborative lawyer.


Within arbitration the dispute between parties is resolved by the decision of an arbitrator, who will be independent to the two parties and their legal representatives.

Arbitration runs as a tribunal, with the arbitrator reviewing evidence and listening to the position of both parties, before making a decision on how matters should be resolved. The decision of the Arbitrator is called an award and is legally binding. The decision can be challenged or appealed, but this is often not the case.

Our solicitors at Barnes Clark Family Law will advise you as to whether ADR is suitable for your matter and will ensure that you are fully informed of the routes available to you (if necessary), before any steps are taken.

We offer a free half an hour consultation. To arrange an appointment please call 01274 861096 / 01423 637272 or email enquiries@barnesclarkfamily.law.