Alternative Dispute

The less stressful way to settle a dispute

Alternative dispute resolution. But, what is it?

Alternative Dispute Resolution, often referred to as ADR, is a method by which a family dispute is resolved away from the courts. You may imagine divorce proceedings taking many months, but this doesn’t need to be the case using a method of Alternative Dispute Resolution. Methods include:

• Collaborative Practice
• Represented Mediation
• Arbitration
• Private FDR’s

Is alternative dispute
resolution right for me?

At Goughs, going to Court for a settlement is always the last resort. We subscribe to Resolution’s Code of Practice which obliges us to resolve issues constructively. There are several methods we can employ to keep your case away from the acrimony and costs often associated with court proceedings.

If this sounds like the sort of divorce you are looking for, continue reading for more detailed information on how we can support and guide you through this difficult time. 

Don't waste time and money

Your local family lawyer since 1882

Everything you need to know about ADR

ADR has many advantages for those who would prefer to keep their arguments informal and out of court. 

  • ADR offers a solution to many of the negatives of the traditional litigation processes, which are often criticised for being costly, stressful and creating lasting conflict between those involved.
  • ADR is more efficient and economical than the alternative.
  • As ADR focuses on finding mutually beneficial solutions for both parties, it is especially well-suited to those who wish to maintain a constructive future relationship with the person they are in dispute with, which is of key importance where children are involved.
  • Lastly, ADR can be more affordable for individuals who do not wish to be faced with the sizeable legal fees associated with a contested court case. 

Collaborative Practice

Ideal for couples wanting to prioritise the interests of the whole family. This process involves a formal commitment to resolve issues respectfully and not to go to court if challenges arise.

For more detailed information, click here, to head to our Collaborative Practice page

Represented Mediation

This option involves the parties mediating with their lawyers present, knowing that the agreed mediator (an expert neutral lawyer), has thoroughly mastered all the issues in the case by reading professionally prepared documentation in advance.

A full day is usually made available, with the aim of reaching an agreement by the end of it. The mediator facilitates discussions, if necessary challenges the parties, and steers a path through any obstacles that may arise. The lawyers guide their clients, advise on the law, and ensure a fair outcome.


The separating couple accept that the outcome will be decided by a third party arbitrator. Closer in format and effect to a court hearing, this method requires both parties to agree to be legally bound by the decision of a jointly appointed expert arbitrator after a meeting.

The legally-represented parties choose their date, venue and arbitrator; and avoid the delays and lack of judge-time and are exempt from having to follow the formal court rules. This has benefits in terms of time and cost, especially as lengthy court proceedings often throw up complications and disputes which incur additional legal fees.

Private FDR’s

‘FDR’ stands for Financial Dispute Resolution – a hearing which is required as part of Financial Remedy Proceeding. The idea is that the parties, their lawyers, and the judge collectively settle the case. It’s a great idea in principle, because the judge is supposed to give an informal indication about outcomes which the court would consider appropriate, based on the evidence available. If it’s done well, an FDR can be an effective aid to settlement. 

A private FDR involves the parties and their lawyers selecting an independent, experienced family lawyer – usually an expert barrister – to conduct a private hearing, with the barrister sitting in the role of the judge. 

The main advantage is that a private FDR can be arranged quickly, rather than waiting many months for a court hearing.

As discussed above, many of the routes ADR can take do save costs in the long run. Most methods of ADR do, however, require both parties to be open to discussion and compromise for it to work effectively. 

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Everything was completed professionally and within my tight time scales. I would like to say thank you and would definitely go back to Goughs should I need help in the future.

Ali McBrine

Thank you Alice Blackmore for your fantastic professional support, with care, compassion and kindness, of our need for explanation and understanding of the system and language in a lot of correspondence. Thank you too for being always being honest and empathic of our feelings.

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Phil Carter

Goughs Solicitors provide a friendly, professional and extremely reassuring service. The whole team, especially Georgina Catlin, are empathetic and provide sound advice when required, you definitely feel you are in safe hands.

FREE 30 minute consultation with a family lawyer

We offer a free 30 minute no obligation consultation providing you direct access with one of our professional Family Law specialists.

Why work with Goughs?

Local since 1882, with an excellent reputation

First-class, effective service

Largest solicitors in Wiltshire

Seven offices throughout the county

Nationally accredited law firm

Recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners

Your alternative dispute resolution team

Juliet Gordon


Juliet qualified in 2018, and joined Goughs in April 2022. She always strives to provide calm, empathetic advice, and prioritises ensuring that her clients are updated throughout the process, aiming to exceed their expectations.

Matthew Drew

Managing Partner & Finance Partner

As an experienced lawyer in the Family Department, Matthew specialises in complex, high-value financial cases following on from divorce and separation. Matthew also has a great deal of experience in private law Children Act cases.

Thomas Boyce

Head of Family
Head of Farming & Rural Land

Thomas joined Goughs in April 2015, was made a Partner in 2016, and is Head of the Family department. He is an experienced family law specialist and advises a wide range of clients, both married and unmarried, on the implications of relationship breakdown.

Related Pages

Should I get a divorce? 10 things to consider

Ensure you have all the information you need.

What is alternative dispute resolution?

If you are looking for even more detailed guidance on what to expect if you go down the route of alternative dispute resolution, read more here.

Divorce & Separation

Divorce & Finances

Children Matters

Domestic Abuse & Injunctions

Cohabitation Agreements

Collaborative Law

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