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


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. 

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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. 

Philip Fowler

Very professional service

Very professional service - at a difficult time due to Covid 19.


Jane Weller


Helpful, prompt and efficient


Ms Michelle Fielding

I would definitely recommend Goughs

I definitely would recommend Goughs they were very efficient, very helpful and always informed us of what was happening in the chain.


Ms Kathleen Lucas

Thank you very much for doing a great job

Thank you very much for doing a great job as always, would recommend you for sure for being so efficient and getting the job done as quick as possible.


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Very helpful. Advice clear with plenty of time for us to consider all the options before making decisions.


Mr Wood

Very thorough

Very thorough, and we also got forces discount.



Chambers & Partners

Chambers and Partners produces international rankings for the legal industry

Adept at handling complex divorce proceedings and related financial disputes. Regularly assists with challenging private law children cases. Offers further experience in negotiating pre-nuptial and cohabitation agreements.


Legal 500

The Legal 500 is a research, ranking and publishing firm based in the UK

Goughs is a strong team that has strength and depth in its family law department. They are known for achieving good client outcomes and their good client care.


Russell Fitch

Great service

Great service, professional, great communication and handled what was a very sensitive situation with care and compassion.



Very calm and clear

My lawyer was very calm and clear and she put me at ease during a very stressful time. The outcome was exactly as I'd hoped.



Highly satisfactory

Thank you for all your help, guidance and understanding over the last 2 years. You and your team have been outstanding during a very difficult time and managed the case through to a highly satisfactory conclusion.


The Goughs approach to divorce

Mistakes people make when divorcing
Mistakes people make when divorcing
The Goughs approach to separation and divorce
The Goughs approach to separation and divorce
Common misconceptions in divorce
Common misconceptions in divorce

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

Matthew Drew

Head of Family & Finance Partner

As head of Goughs Family Department, Matthew specialises in complex, high-value financial cases following on from divorce and separation.

Thomas Boyce

Partner & Head of Farming & Rural Land

Thomas joined Goughs in April 2015 and was made a Partner in 2016. 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