Divorce, children and reaching the best resolution - without the courts

New rules for family mediation, with Ann Herd from Scott Bailey LLP Lymington and Lyndhurst

Going through a divorce or separation is stressful at the best of times. There is so much to consider, such as your children and your finances, and often it is difficult to see a clear path on how to reach a resolution. It can be easy to assume that the first port of call is the courts, but it should really be one of the last given the multitude of ways to try and resolve matters amicably. In recent years, there has been a shift in the Family Courts towards encouraging families to resolve their issues outside of court to save time and cost to those involved. The most recent being the new rules coming into place for family mediation. 

Read this article by Ann Heard at Scott Bailey Solicitors - consistently ranked by the best independent guide as one of the top specialist family law solicitors in the South.

Ann Heard, Solicitor at Scott Bailey LLP

What are the new rules coming into place for family mediation?

Set to take effect in April 2024, The Family Procedure (Amendment No. 2) Rules 2023 bring significant changes to how the family court approaches 'ADR'; Alternative Dispute Resolution.

These new rules broaden the definition of out-of-court dispute resolution processes to include not only mediation but also arbitration, evaluation by a neutral third party, or the collaborative approach.

How does this change the Court process?

Currently, a mediator must sign a court form to allow a court application regarding children matters and finances in divorce. This can be done after an initial individual meeting with a mediator. There are currently various exemptions to the mediation requirement, but these exemptions are being reduced (whilst still ensuring the protection of domestic violence victims).

Starting in April, if you are considering making an application but you do not properly engage with the mediation process (or another ADR method), you will need to explain your reasons to the court alongside your application.

Upon receiving your application, the court can schedule ADR within the process to explore all options before resorting to the often lengthy and costly litigation route.

Furthermore, if an application is submitted for the court to assess the parties' finances in divorce, the court can make costs orders against a party who unreasonably refuses ADR.

These changes highlight the family courts' determined effort to increase the use of non-court dispute resolution processes. It is important to note that whilst the family court is increasingly encouraging ADR, provisions have been made to ensure victims of domestic abuse will be exempt.

We are here to help…

Whether you require Mediation, the Collaborative approach, or One Couple One Lawyer ADR, Scott Bailey's award-winning family solicitors and mediators are here to assist you. Contact us today to get started via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 01590 676933.

Ann Herd, Solicitor at Scott Bailey LLP

Ann Herd is an experienced family lawyer who is also both an accredited mediator and collaborative family lawyer. She is a trained Resolution Together (one couple – one lawyer) practitioner and is always looking for the best dispute resolution to avoid court. She is a member of Hampshire Family Legal Solutions, a group of like-minded professionals.

Ann's experience ranges from representing high net worth clients in court to mediating issues relating to future arrangements for children. She deals with all aspects of divorce and civil partnership dissolution together with financial disputes arising from relationship breakdown. She has a particular specialism in dealing with disputes involving children including residence, contact, relocation and holidays.

Ann has dealt with many complex financial disputes whether between separating spouses, civil partners, unmarried couples or same sex partners. Whilst her objective is to find creative ways to resolve any issues which arise in family breakdown whether financial or related to children, Ann will fight tenaciously through the courts if that is the only way to achieve a fair outcome.

Scott Bailey are consistently ranked by the best independent guide as one of the top specialist family law solicitors in the South.


About Scott Bailey LLP

Founded in 1930, Scott Bailey has grown to become a leading firm in the New Forest, providing a full range of legal services to private individuals and businesses. Services for individuals include Residential Conveyancing, Divorce, Family, Wills Trusts & Probate, Litigation & Disputes.

SME business legal services include Corporate, Commercial, Intellectual Property, Dispute Resolution, Landlord & Tenant, Insolvency and Employment Law. Scott Bailey LLP is one of only a very few firms based in the New Forest providing these specialist services. 

The first firm in the region to receive the Law Society's prestigious LEXCEL award for high standards of practice management and customer care, Scott Bailey LLP promises top-quality, professional help from a team of expert solicitors who will put your best interests at the heart of their work.

Scott Bailey was delighted and proud to win "Business of the Year" at the 2023 New Forest Brilliance in Business Awards - read story here.


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