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How can we sort things out?

Posted: 04-05-2021

When you are in dispute with an ex-partner it can often be hard to know what to do. You may automatically think about making a court application; however, this is often costly and very stressful. We at Sousa Law are committed to helping you deal with your issues as amicably as possible. Therefore, there are several other options available to help you reach an agreement, which you should consider:



This is where the two of you have meetings with a family mediator. The mediator helps you both to reach an agreement about the issues in dispute. The mediator cannot give legal advice, but can give information and guidance on possible solutions. Both of you will be encouraged to take legal advice throughout the mediation process. Once an agreement has been reached at mediation, the mediator will produce a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ setting out the details of the settlement reached. This is not legally binding. Therefore, you will have to take this to a lawyer who can advise on how it can be drafted into a legally binding document. Child Inclusive mediation is available, where the mediator will also talk to the children of the family and get their views on the issues. This is the most amicable way to reach an agreement. For more information on mediation, please visit our website.

Catherine Sousa is a mediator.


Collaborative Law

This is where each of you instruct a collaboratively trained lawyer. All discussions take place in 4-way round table meetings at which both of you, and both of your respective lawyers, are present. Everybody signs a ‘Participation Agreement’ under which you all agree not to go to Court, and to sort out all issues in a collaborative way at the 4-way meetings. Meetings can often involve other professionals like financial advisors and family consultants. These professionals act as neutrals, and so advise both of you on the issues. This is an amicable way to deal with issues, but with the added reassurance of your lawyer being present for all negotiations. For more information on collaborative law, please visit our website.

Catherine Sousa is a collaborative lawyer.


Negotiations via solicitors

This is what most people think of when they talk about seeing a lawyer to get an issue resolved. This is when each of you instruct your own lawyer, and all negotiations are carried out through your lawyers. This can take time, as each lawyer will need to take instructions from you or your partner and then write or phone the other lawyer. This is the traditional way in which issues are settled. To speed up the process, often lawyers suggest ‘round table meetings’. This is where there are 4-way meetings at which both of you, and both of your respective lawyers, are present. This is different to collaborative law, as it is not the only way negotiations take place and no participation agreement is signed.



This is a very good alternative to Court. It can often be much quicker, cheaper and less stressful than a court application. This is where the two of you, usually with the help of your lawyers, nominate a highly skilled and experienced neutral lawyer to make a decision on the issues on your behalf. It can be used for several issues, or just one. Their decision is legally binding on both of you. For more information on arbitration, please visit our website.

Catherine Sousa is an arbitrator dealing with children matters.


Court Application

This should only be used as a last resort. The Courts are very busy nowadays, and so there is a lot of pressure on lawyers and parties to keep issues out of Court. For most applications to Court there are several hearings, until a final hearing where a Judge makes a decision or judgement. It can often take up to a year to fully deal with an application, and sometimes even longer. The judgement can only be appealed if the Judge made a wrong decision legally, not if the parties are unhappy with it. Court applications are often costly, long and stressful. For more information on the various court applications, please visit our website.


All of these options can be used to reach an agreement regarding Divorce & Separation, Financial Settlements and Child disputes.


A very handy flow chart of this, and further information, is included in the Resolution leaflet Choosing the Right Process.


Contact Us

Sousa Law are expert Divorce Solicitors in Southampton. If you require help and advice concerning Divorce & Separation, Financial Settlements or Child Arrangements and would like to discuss how we can help you, please contact us on 02380 713 060 or to book a Free Initial Consultation.


By Nicole Biggs