Legal Guides

We use plain and simple English to give you an overview of the most common areas of law.

Are there alternatives to the family courts?

The breakdown of a relationship is upsetting and distressful in its own right and, when faces with the stresses of court, the whole process can become completely overwhelming. Many families decide to explore alternatives to the family court in the hope of reducing emotional trauma whilst still resolving issues. Every family unit is different and therefore the way each family choose to settle issues will differ. Alternative resolutions such as mediation, arbitration and collaborative law can help to resolve a number of issues regarding finances, property and children.


This is the process where a neutral third party assists disputing parties, takes a voluntary approach that focuses on the reconciliation of relationships.  It is much more flexible than traditional court proceedings that focus on who is right vs who is wrong in the eyes of the law.

Mediation services can help you to reach an agreement about disputed issues regarding your separation – the issues that can be resolved through mediation surround finances, children and communication. It is important to remember that mediators are impartial and therefore should never advise you on any legal matters and you should always seek advice from legal professionals throughout the entire mediation process.

Mediation is also far cheaper than traditional court proceedings as you have the ability to choose a mediator that is best suited to your budget. You could also be eligible for free mediation services if you are currently unemployed, receive state benefits or are on a low income.


Legally trained and qualified professionals will make impartial decisions regarding the division of financial assets.

It is the role of the arbitrator to collect all relevant information and evidence surrounding the disputed issue and make a decision based on these findings which is reflective of the law. Your arbitrator will then draft a consent order which outlines their conclusions regarding the division of finances – this will be legally binding once it is approved by a judge.

Whilst you must consider the fees of the arbitrator and individual legal fees, the service is thought to be a far cheaper alternative to traditional court proceedings.

Collaborative Law

This refers to negotiating with your ex-partner on a face-to-face basis with the assistance of your lawyer.

Collaborative law is usually used to resolve financial issues that haven’t previously been settled throughout divorce proceedings in court, or to negotiate child arrangements and custody rights.

This is a popular alternative to the family court as you are able to use the knowledge and expertise of legal professionals whilst also avoiding the stresses of court.

Similar to arbitration, throughout the process of collaborative law, a consent order explaining the agreement that has been reached will be drawn up and sent to the courts for approval. If, for some reason, both parties did not reach a mutual agreement through collaborative law, financial relief and a child arrangements order can be applied for as a separate process.

It is clear to see why so many families are choosing alternatives to the family court to resolve issues. With something to suit everyone’s legal situation and budget, you no longer need to tolerate cruel and demanding court proceedings.

Written and contributed by: Midlands Dove

DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances, and is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered in this article, please speak to Midlands Dove directly.

Published on 30th November 2018
(Last updated 7th May 2021)