Family dispute resolution – alternatives to court

The majority of disputes … are capable of consensual settlement… all cases which can be settled should be settled.

Lord Wilson SCJ
Family Law Services at Penningtons Manches

We take a solution-based approach to family law issues. Our team is committed to providing clients with an unparalleled service in a compassionate, professional and cost-effective manner. This ethos has placed us at the forefront of pioneering options for resolving family disputes outside the court arena.

The breakdown of a relationship is never easy and confrontation over the terms of the separation will make things even more difficult. Our family dispute resolution team, which is based in London, Oxford, Reading and Guildford, offers mediation, arbitration and collaborative law. Where possible, we will assist our clients to resolve their differences through discussion and agreement rather than using the court process.

In mediation, a couple will meet together with a specialist neutral mediator or mediators who will facilitate a dialogue between them, help break any impasse and seek solutions tailored to meet both the clients’ needs and those of any children.

With collaborative practice, a couple will each instruct a specialist collaborative lawyer and they will all commit to work together to arrive at fair solutions often with input from other family professionals.

In arbitration, a separating couple agree to side-step the court process and be bound by the decision of a neutral arbitrator. The parties enter into an agreement under which they appoint a suitably qualified arbitrator to adjudicate and make an award.

A compulsory timetable for dealing with money or children issues will be set in court-based litigation.  Negotiation is encouraged but, in the absence of agreement, the court will impose an outcome. The final option is for couples with complex financial issues to engage an expert family lawyer to conduct a private financial dispute resolution appointment (FDR), during the court process.

We offer expert advice on:

  • selecting the best dispute resolution option
  • implementing agreements reached in direct discussions
  • mediation
  • collaborative practice
  • arbitration
  • court-based litigation
  • private FDRs/early neutral evaluation
  • Mediation and Information Assessment Meetings (MIAMs)

Recent work highlights

Co-mediation for international couple

Helping draw up a robust parenting plan and financial agreement for a London-based couple, enabling them to reach solutions that worked for their family in a shorter timescale and at less expense than through the courts.


Private dispute resolution hearing

Arranging a private dispute resolution hearing for a City financier to allow a negotiated settlement to be reached sooner than would have been possible through the court, resulting in a considerable cost saving for the family.


Collaborative case for City lawyer

Representing a City lawyer in a collaborative case which was resolved within four months. A full and binding agreement was reached in relation to the finances, residence and contact with the children.

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Penningtons Manches LLP

Penningtons Manches LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. San Francisco is an associated office.

Penningtons Manches LLP