Finding the best option for your separation

03 Nov 2014

paper cut out family

Not everyone can sort out their separation by talking to their former partner. You can choose a number of different routes to separate – the challenge is finding out which option works best for you and your former partner.

Family Dispute Resolution Week 24-28 November 2014 will highlight and explore the different routes you can use to separate in a way that helps you find a lasting solution so you can move on with your lives.

How to find the right option for you

1. Meet with a mediator. A mediator is independent, will give you the information you need, support each of you in discussing whatever you need to sort out and help you to find solutions. You, your former partner and the mediator will have several meetings and when you reach a consensus, the mediator will recommend that you ask a lawyer to advise and help you both to draw up a document recording your agreement.

2. If you think that this would be too difficult for you and your former partner, but you like the sound of sorting it out cooperatively, you can try the collaborative process. It’s similar to mediation, but you have a collaboratively trained lawyer in the room with you to provide advice and support throughout the process.

3. If you can't face meeting in the same room as your former partner, but you like the sound of mediation or the collaborative process, it’s worth considering whether you can try one of these processes on a ‘shuttle’ basis, where the mediator or collaborative lawyers meet with each of you in separate rooms. It might be sensible to involve a therapist as well.

4. If mediation or the collaborative process aren’t suitable options, your solicitor may negotiate with your former partner’s solicitor on the telephone or in writing, or you may all meet together or in separate rooms to find an agreement.

5. If none of these options are working, but you would like a solution without going to court, you could agree to go to arbitration. Arbitration is like a private court hearing at which the arbitrator will make a decision which will usually then become a court order, or legally binding decision.

6. If negotiations though solicitors haven’t worked, or your solicitor thinks the structure of the court timetable is needed in your case, court proceedings may be issued. Your solicitor may continue to negotiate on your behalf. Usually an agreement will be reached, but if not then eventually there will be a final court hearing and a judge will decide on what should happen and make a court order.

Find out more about settling your separation out of court

Find a Resolution member to support you through separation

This article has been adapted from a piece written by Alison Bull and Kim Beatson published in the October 2014 Resolution Review.