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Other alternative dispute resolution

Other alternative dispute resolution

Other alternative dispute resolution

Other alternative dispute resolution

Litigating in the family court should be a last resort, but there are cases in which an application is necessary, and court proceedings cannot be avoided. The members of our expert team are highly experienced strategists and litigators, should any family matter reach this point.

However, there are alternative forums in which to resolve family disputes, whether by discussion and negotiation, direct with the other party, in family therapy, through family law solicitors or in mediation, or by arbitration. The alternatives to court are generally referred to as alternative dispute resolution, ADR or non-court resolution.

Methods of alternative dispute resolution

Private Dispute Resolution

As family law specialists we regularly help our clients to resolve disputes and deal with matters by consent, to avoid the acrimony, delay and legal costs associated with going to court.

At the outset and throughout any family law case, we look to negotiate and consider early neutral evaluation and alternative forms of dispute resolution with our clients. We discuss the options and advise on the most suitable forum for resolving the issues in their case - taking into consideration the legal costs and other benefits to the family if litigation can be avoided.

Private FDRs

During financial remedy proceedings pursuant to divorce and dissolution parties can agree, and are now positively encouraged by the family court, to
attend a private Financial Dispute Resolution appointment (FDR).

A negotiated settlement can be achieved much quicker and more efficiently at a private FDR, as parties can decide when and where the FDR will take place. A private FDR judge will typically allow a whole day to consider the papers, form a view and seek to help the parties finally conclude matters in their case. Parties also have the freedom to choose a specialist family law solicitor, barrister or retired judge to act as their private FDR judge.

Whilst parties are required to pay their chosen judge’s fee for conducting a private FDR, most financial remedy cases settle at the FDR, so we will always consider a private FDR for our clients.

A separated couple can also appoint a private FDR judge to review the disclosure and other evidence and provide their views and an indication of the
likely outcome regarding any issue in dispute. An early indication by a neutral, reputable and experienced specialist can assist the parties to negotiate a settlement. This process is most often used in financial cases but can be employed in other family disputes.

Family Mediation

See Family Mediation.

Family Arbitration

In cases where parties are unable to resolve financial issues or child arrangements by agreement and have the means to pay arbitration fees, they can agree to engage in family arbitration as opposed to litigating in the family court.

Cases can be concluded much quicker and more efficiently through family arbitration, as parties can select the issues to be arbitrated and decide when and where the arbitration will take place. Parties also have the freedom to choose a specialist family law practitioner to act as their arbitrator, and they should benefit from judicial continuity throughout.

The decision rendered by the arbitrator is known as the arbitral award. This award is final and binding on the parties, as it is incorporated into an order and sealed by the family court. An arbitral award may only be reviewed by the court on a very limited basis.

Unlike the family court, which has an evolving policy on privacy and anonymity and can attract unwanted media attention and reporting, family arbitration is completely private and confidential; this appeals to those seeking privacy and discretion in any family matter.

We expect family arbitration to continue to rise in popularity, and all members of our team, who are fully experienced in this process, will continue to explore this form of ADR for our clients.

Benefits of alternative dispute resolution

There are many benefits to ADR, including the following:

Reduces conflict

Litigation is stressful, and adversarial court proceedings can exacerbate friction between parties. Family law issues are not always acrimonious, and it is desirable for parties who are in dispute to work together to resolve matters quickly and constructively, particularly where children are concerned. ADR can help parties maintain a positive relationship.


Parties can reach an agreement at an earlier stage in the proceedings or without starting the court process at all. They can agree on when and where to negotiate a settlement or to have matters determined by an arbitrator instead of being tied to a timetable set by the court and subject to administrative difficulties and delay due to shortages in judicial staff and the backlog in family court hearings.

Reduced legal costs

Court proceedings are expensive and often involve solicitors’ costs, barristers’ fees and fees charged by third-party experts. A key advantage to ADR and negotiated settlements is saving legal costs.

Confidentiality and privacy

ADR is confidential and conducted privately, so parties can maintain confidentiality and privacy throughout the ADR process and beyond. This is particularly appealing to high-profile clients who are concerned about exposure in the press and social media.

What happens if alternative dispute resolution does not work?

Parties who are unable to resolve their dispute through ADR can then make an application to the family court. The only form of ADR which prevents an application to the court is arbitration, as parties to an arbitration agreement opt out of the court process, and the decision made by the arbitrator is final.

Why choose Sheridans for alternative dispute resolution?

Our expert family team is well-connected and well-versed in all forms of ADR, and we consider all options for our clients. ADR has its own complexities, and it is not suitable in every case. However, we recognise the benefits of ADR, advise on the different methods of ADR and encourage our clients to engage in ADR where appropriate.

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Divorce, Dissolution, Separation and Nullity
A relationship breakdown that ends in divorce or dissolution can be a challenging and emotional subject to discuss, whether for personal, religious or cultural reasons.
Matrimonial Finances
One of the more complex areas of family law is financial provision following divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership.
Common law marriage is a myth in England and Wales. As a result of this common misconception, cohabitees can find themselves in financial difficulty if their relationship breaks down.
Our expert family team deals with the full range of agreements, including pre and post-nuptial agreements, pre and post-civil partnership agreements, living together, separation and settlement agreements.
International Family Law
Many of our cases cross jurisdictions and involve conflicts of law and cross-border disputes. We regularly advise clients on international issues arising in cases involving finances, agreements and arrangements for children and seek advice from our international network of family lawyers on the application of foreign law.
Enforcement of court orders
Our highly skilled family team assists clients by taking action to enforce court orders in circumstances where there has been a breach.
Child arrangements
We assist our clients in all aspects of private children law, and guide them through, what can often be a very emotional and challenging time.
Financial provision for children
Our specialist family team advises on the full range of financial provision which can be made for the benefit of children of married and unmarried couples, pursuant to the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and Schedule 1 to the Children Act 1989 (known as Schedule 1).
Our specialist family team has a wealth of experience, and supports clients through private adoption with care and compassion.
Surrogacy and parental orders
Surrogacy is one of a range of assisted conception options for people who are unable to conceive or carry a child themselves.
Protective Measures and Injunctions
Abuse and violence within any family is a matter that our expert team handles with utmost care and sensitivity.
Family Mediation
Mediation is a method for resolving disputes which is wholly endorsed by the family justice system and family law practitioners.
Divorce, Dissolution, Separation and Nullity
Matrimonial Finances
International Family Law
Enforcement of court orders
Child arrangements
Financial provision for children
Surrogacy and parental orders
Protective Measures and Injunctions
Family Mediation

Meet the team

Sheridans has a specialist family team which provides advice in all aspects of family law, within a leading media, entertainment and technology law firm. We understand our clients’ needs for discretion, personal and bespoke advice in order to manage highly sensitive family cases.


‘I found the quality of service outstanding. All of the individuals I encountered were extremely impressive – very on the ball legally and extremely responsive.’

‘Sheridans provides brilliant and balanced advice. It handles its cases with an effortless efficiency and there is an air of reassuring quality when dealing with the firm.’

‘Sheridans has a wealth of experience in all aspects of private family law. It routinely acts for high-net-worth and high-profile individuals such as actors, sports stars and elite athletes, and there is often a significant international dimension to its work.’

‘Nothing is too much hassle, and everything is done promptly. Experienced, thoughtful and professional.’

‘The children/private law practice is first class – they show a real commitment to their clients and are able, with considerable expertise and an excellent knowledge base, to offer the type of service clients need. They offer realistic advice and then drive and persevere to pursue their case.’

‘The team provides a very personal and joined up experience across their different practice areas.’

‘Professional and knowledgeable. Very helpful and concentrates on what is absolutely needed.’

‘The team is well-placed to advise those who are susceptible to press exposure.’

‘The group’s particular expertise lies in advising wealthy individuals on issues such as matrimonial finance and private law children matters frequently with an international dimension.’


Sheridans is a leading media and technology law firm whose lawyers combine in-depth legal and commercial knowledge with breadth of expertise and experience to give unparalleled advice to their clients.