Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) refers to solving an issue without going to Court and using methods such as arbitration or mediation instead. ADR can be a cost-effective method of resolving an issue and the decision is legally binding. Contact the family law team at Downs to see if your issue can be resolved using ADR.

Reach an agreement yourselves

You could settle your dispute directly with your ex-partner and have a family solicitor that you contact as and when you need guidance. A family solicitor may also be able to convert a concluded agreement in to a contract or court order for you so that it is formally recorded. 


Mediation involves an independent third party who may or may not be a solicitor helping the two of you to reach agreement or even just to narrow down some of the areas of dispute. Most parties generally have a solicitor in the background to give advice and to prepare a formal record of the agreement reached.

Collaborative Law

You both need to instruct collaboratively trained solicitors to use this method of ADR. The process involves committing to using this method to resolve the dispute and meetings rather than letters going back and forth between solicitors. Our Cobham office team has completed this specialist training and can assist you during this process.


You can instruct an arbitrator to decide the outcome of your case but this has to be by agreement with your ex-partner. The arbitration is binding, although it can be appealed in certain circumstances.

Solicitors’ negotiation

You can instruct a family solicitor to represent you and try to negotiate a settlement with your ex-partner. This option is usually used when both parties already have some kind of basic agreement or understanding regarding the divorce and simply need to legalise the agreement. If this is not the case, the negotiations could be time consuming and solicitor’s costs could quickly spiral out of control. If an agreement is reached through negotiation, then your solicitor will ensure it is formalised.

Court proceedings

If all else fails you can start court proceedings to resolve matters in dispute. However, you will need to comply with the Court’s requirements to attend an information session with a mediator first. For further information please visit or speak to one of our specialist Family Law solicitors.

Our Team