Process options for resolving disputes

Dispute Resolution 

At the outset of your matter, we will always discuss process options with you, once we have a better understanding of the particular circumstances and the issues we are dealing with.

We will always endeavour to work with you and resolve matters outside of a court process, if at all possible. The vast majority of cases are dealt with using an appropriate form of dispute Resolution. There are many options available and consideration will be given as to whether some or all are options for your particular circumstances:

  • ‘Kitchen table’ discussions between you and your ex-partner (where appropriate and safe to do so)
  • Solicitor-led negotiations including ‘round table’ meetings
  • Mediation
  • Arbitration
  • Early neutral evaluation
  • Private Financial Dispute Resolution Hearings (“FDRs”)

In some cases, it is not possible to resolve matters and contested court proceedings are the only way. We never advise on entering a court process lightly, but sometimes this is unavoidable and the only way to resolve the issue/s. This is a case-specific, strategic decision that has to be given careful thought, but if required, we are equipped with the experience and skills to handle your case to its conclusion.

Court Proceedings

The court process varies depending on the type of proceedings being dealt with and we will steer you through the various steps of the court process, relevant to the application being dealt with, prior to your decision to issue proceedings. All proceedings start with an application being drafted by us, in conjunction with you, which will attract a court fee (unless a court fee exemption can be sought). There will be an element of administrative gatekeeping by the court to make directions for what the parties should do next in terms of preparing for the first hearing in the matter, which is often called a ‘directions hearing’ or a First Directions Appointment (finances) or First Hearing Dispute Resolution Appointment (private law children). The court will consider what the issues are, the facts or matters in dispute, how those issues will be resolved and what, if any, evidence (whether from the parties or a jointly appointed expert) is required. 

If the application has been made on an urgent basis, the court may list a hearing at short notice to ascertain the urgency and what, if any, interim orders and directions need to be made for the profit on of the parties or their children and/or to progress matters swiftly.

In both children matters and financial matters, there will be a hearing, following the filing of evidence and compliance with court directions to try and resolve matters without a fully contested hearing. In financial proceedings, this is known as a Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing (FDR) and children proceedings a Dispute Resolution Appointment (DRA).

Both of these hearings are aimed at resolving matters and require skill and careful preparation in anticipation of and at the hearings themselves. Such hearings enable the parties to negotiate and try and find a solution allowing matters to conclude.  If matters can not be resolved, the court will list a contested final hearing, where the parties and any experts (so far as necessary) will give evidence to enable the Judge to make a decision.  

It is without a doubt that the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on the functioning of the court system and the ability of the court to deal with matters on a swift timetable. Hearings can be listed a long way ahead, sometimes many months, which can lead to a lot of uncertainty and concern about the future and when matters will be concluded. Many hearings remain ‘virtual’ either entirely or hybrid (where some people attend and others are remote). Hearings can be removed from the court list at short notice to the parties, which causes an increase in cost and a great deal of frustration and a feeling of being lost in the system. These issues will be part of our overall consideration when guiding you through this process, enabling us to discuss with you the best process option moving forward to ensure your matter is on the right track to resolution from the outset.

Working with other professionals

At all stages of your matter, we will consider the need to refer to or work with other professionals to offer services and expertise beyond our own or to compliment the legal advice you are receiving. Quite often it will be advisable to engage, early in the process, a specialist family barrister. We work closely and have an excellent relationship with a number of specialist family law barristers at highly reputable chambers and are able to handpick barristers, work as part of the team, and ensure the right person for your case.

We also work in conjunction with and will engage or make recommendations for:-

  • divorce coaches
  • meditators
  • family therapists
  • independent social workers
  • pension experts
  • accountants
  • tax specialists
  • forensic accountants
  • surveyors

The necessity of other professionals will very much depend on your specific circumstances and how their involvement will assist, narrow the issues or progress your matter to its conclusion.

Our Commitment

It is always our aim to offer a service that provides clear, concise and focussed advice tailored to your needs and your specific circumstances. We will not tell you what you want to hear but what you should hear, to enable you to make informed decisions about your matter and how it should progress.

We are committed to providing you with detailed and clear costs estimates for each stage of your matter or court proceedings. These will be discussed as far as possible at the outset and be updated at appropriate intervals. If we can deal with your issue on a fixed fee, we will do so and provide full details of the fee. We will invoice you monthly with a breakdown of work carried out. We will discuss funding options appropriate for your matter.  

If ever you have a query regarding your matter generally or fees we will address your query at the earliest opportunity.


If you would like to speak to our team about your circumstances, please fill in your details and we will get back to you.