This year is the third national awareness-raising event to highlight the alternatives to court for separating couples.

These initiatives are run by Resolution (representing Family solicitors), and supported by the Law Society and family mediation organisations, all determined to find ways of avoiding painful and costly court proceedings.

In North East Essex there are solicitors, mediators, arbitrators and financial advisers working together to help solve problems in a dignified and constructive way for families.

There are a number of different approaches:

Collaborative practice: Each party instructs a specially trained collaborative lawyer. The lawyers and parties meet round a table and commit not to go to court but to try to reach an agreement that suits the family. Negotiations are dealt with by way of face-to-face discussion rather than by correspondence between solicitors.

Mediation: Both parties see an independent and impartial trained mediator who help them to reach agreement and then refer to solicitors to formalise it. Each party can take independent legal advice during the process as the mediator cannot advise both parties on the law.

Arbitration: The parties choose an independent arbitrator who will meet them and their solicitors and consider their case and then make a decision which will be legally binding. The parties can agree how the process is run to include the specific issues they with the arbitrator to consider.

Each of these procedures concentrates on finding a settlement that suits both parties, their family and their particular needs.

More information can be found by visiting the Resolution website here or the Colchester Collaborative Lawyers website here.

TSP family department supports National Family Dispute Resolution Week. Our family law solicitors Marcus Price, Alison Cantor and Shelley Cumbers will always discuss the alternatives to court action with you and help you decide which path is best for you.