Non-Court Dispute Resolution

Non-Court dispute resolution


What is mediation?

Mary Gaskins is a qualified mediator and a specialist family lawyer and can help you and your partner agree arrangements in relation to your finances, or children arrangements, in the event of separation.

Family Mediation is a form of Non-Court Dispute Resolution (“NCDR”) and is a voluntary process and provides a safe space in which both parties can come to an agreement about their children or financial affairs. The family courts actively encourage mediation as a process.

The family mediator acts as an impartial and neutral third person to assist separating couples reach agreement on the issues relevant to their matter.  The mediator will, when appropriate, provide legal information to enable the parties to make informed decisions and move towards agreement. They also ensure that discussions remain respectful and constructive.  Many clients that use the mediation process have their own solicitor to provide individual advice in the background, but it is not an absolute requirement.  The mediation process, if in relation to reaching a financial settlement, will require full disclosure of both party’s financial positions.

Family mediation can be tailored to individual circumstances and involve experts where required – such as the instruction of a joint pension expert to provide a report, or an accountant to provide a valuation of a business or company.  It can also incorporate an Early Neutral Evaluation where an experienced barrister is instructed to provide their view on what the outcome of a case might be in the event it was heard by a court.

Benefits of mediation
How does mediation work?
  • Our policy is to speak to both parties before arranging appointments for mediation to ensure that the process is understood.  After this, our family mediator will then meet with both parties individually to assess whether your case is suitable for mediation.  If your case is suitable, we will then arrange for the first joint session.  If mediation is not appropriate for your case, this meeting will constitute a MIAM (a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) which is generally required before either person can issue court proceedings in relation to reaching a financial agreement or children arrangements.
  • Depending on the issues involved, a case may require between three to five joint mediation sessions.
  • During the mediation process and once a resolution has been reached, any necessary documents are prepared, including a Memorandum of Understanding, an Open Financial Statement and bundle of financial disclosure and Parenting Plan (if applicable). 
Where does it take place?

Mediation can take place virtually or in person at our offices.  Both parties will need to agree on the same format of the session.

What are the costs?

The cost of the initial meeting is a fixed fee of £295 plus VAT per person. Following that, the joint sessions and preparatory work are charged at Mary’s mediation hourly rate of £350 plus VAT (per couple).  

If you would like to make an enquiry about the mediation process please contact Mary Gaskins on 0117 959 6408

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Collaborative Process

Bessie Hanson is a qualified collaborative lawyer and a specialist family lawyer and can help you navigate the issues that arise in a separation amicably using the collaborative process.

The collaborative process is a unique process that helps many clients reach an amicable agreement with their former partner on how to divide finances and agree on what care arrangements are best for the children.  It is very much a team effort, with the support of the collaborative lawyers to find pragmatic solutions that meet the specific needs of the family once the decision is made to separate.

What is the collaborative process?

Under the collaborative process, each person appoints their own collaboratively trained lawyer and you and your respective lawyers all meet together to work things out face to face. Both of you will have your lawyer by your side throughout the process and so you will have their guidance, support and legal advice as you go. 

Bessie will advise when it would be beneficial to the family to bring in other professionals, to advise or unlock issues that might arise. This could include an accountant, a coach specialising in separation, a pension expert, an independent financial adviser, a family consultant and/or child specialist or an accountant. The professionals that join the meetings are very much part of the team, they give joint open advice to help you move towards achieving a fair and agreed outcome.

How does the process work?

The first step is to meet with Bessie, so she can fully explore with you this option.   Once you decide it is the right option for you, the hope is that your former partner also agrees it is the right option, and they instruct a collaborative lawyer also.  Bessie can give names of fellow collaborative lawyers to your former partner and they can make direct enquiries.

Once there is an agreement from both you and your former partner that you want to engage in the collaborative process, we then proceed with the following steps:

How long does the collaborative process take?

The process is flexible and the collaborative team can set the agenda and timescale.  There are no fixed court deadlines which means the pace in which the process moves forward is very much unique to each family.

Where does it take place?

The meetings can take place virtually or in person at our offices. Both parties will need to agree on the same format of the session.

What are the costs?

You will be given a bespoke cost estimate if you wish to instruct Bessie as your collaborative lawyer.

If you would like to make an enquiry about the collaborative process please call Bessie Hanson on 0117 959 6408