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The mental health benefits of mediation, collaboration and arbitration

13 May 2021

With mental health awareness week coinciding with an easing of lockdown restrictions, our mental health has never been more important. Unsurprisingly the breakdown of a relationship is one of the most stressful life events you may experience and it can often have a negative impact on mental health.

If you have found that your relationship has been under increased strain as a result of the pandemic, what you do at the point of separation and who you speak to, can have long-lasting and far-reaching implications. Choosing the right forum for separation is therefore essential. As human beings, we are all different so a court based process which is rigid, protracted and has no interest in your emotions is rarely the answer.

Mediation, Collaboration and Arbitration are alternative ways of dealing with the breakdown of a relationship.  Finding a process that fits your circumstances will result in a better outcome, both mentally and financially. You will be able to have civil discussions and agree the best possible outcome not only for yourself, but also as a family when children are involved.


Through mediation, you discuss your separation with the help of a neutral third party Mediator, who will facilitate discussions although cannot give legal advice. Mediation can be used to resolve all issues arising out of separation and is designed to be a constructive and confidential forum.

Both you and your partner/spouse can choose the topics for discussion and the decisions to be reached, but you will still need independent legal advice on any agreement reached.

Collaborative law

Collaborative practice is another solution if you wish to avoid an acrimonious and lengthy Court process and puts you in control of your family’s future. The aim is to minimise stress following separation and allows you to achieve flexible and, sometimes, unique arrangements. It works best where both parties are committed to finding a solution that is fair and in the best interests of everyone involved.

You and your partner/spouse will need to separately instruct collaboratively trained lawyers and sign an agreement in which you both commit to resolving matters outside of the Court process. Following this, both of you together with your respective collaborative lawyers take part in a meeting to discuss what the issues and find a solution that you are both comfortable with.

The number of meetings required will depend on the level of agreement you have reached and the complexity of any issues but is efficient, cost effective and avoids unnecessary correspondence between solicitors.


Most matters can generally be agreed using one of the above forums but, if there is a difficult issue, it can be referred to Arbitration (which is akin to a private hearing) for resolution. Unlike the court process, you and your partner/spouse agree on and appoint your own Judge (known as an Arbitrator) to make a decision.

This can be done either on paper or by having a ‘live’ hearing at the end of which an Award is made which is then converted into a legally binding order.

Going to Court should be the last resort and with delays at an all-time high, it has never been more important to find an alternative way of resolving matters. All of the above forums are significantly quicker and, ultimately, less expensive than contested court proceedings.

How we can help

If you or anyone you know is considering or going through a separation we are always happy to have a free initial, no obligation chat. To do so, please contact Vanda James.

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