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The Family Procedure Rules govern the practices used in the Family Courts in England and Wales. In an effort to promote early resolution of Financial arrangements out of Court, a number of amendments have been made to these rules.

For example, the definition of ‘non-court dispute resolution’ will now include ‘mediation, arbitration, evaluation by a neutral third party (such as a private Financial Dispute Resolution process) and collaborative law’ rather than just mediation.

Parties are required to attend a MIAM (mediation information assessment meeting) in an attempt to try using mediation to resolve matters before applying to Court. As of April 2024, providers will also now be required to provide information about the most appropriate out of court dispute resolution options to resolve matters.

It will also now be a requirement for parties to file a form with the Court outlining their views on using non-court dispute resolution to resolve the issues raised in the proceedings. The Court can adjourn the proceedings at any point if it is believed that non-court dispute resolution could be used.

Family Procedure Rule 3.4(1)(b) will now also explicitly state that failing to engage in Non-Court Dispute Resolution, without good reason, could lead to an order for costs.

So what are the Non-Court Dispute Resolution options?


Before going to Court (unless exempt) parties must attend a MIAM to determine whether their case is suitable for mediation. If it is, then an independent person called a Mediator, will assist both parties in reaching an agreement. This agreement will then be formally drawn up by a solicitor and sent to the Court for approval.  This is a useful method for parties who wish to remain amicable, if they are on an even footing in negotiations.  There are now options for hybrid mediation, where parties can attend mediation meetings with their solicitors present.


This option again involves an independent third party, who is appointed by the parties, to make a decision regarding the dispute. Arbitration is usually used in high conflict cases and the arbitrator makes the final decision, unlike in mediation. The decision made by the arbitrator is confidential and binding.

Collaborative Law

This is where both parties instruct a Collaborative Lawyer who attend face-to-face meetings with the parties to negotiate a resolution together. If this process breaks down before resolution however, both parties will need to find new solicitors. Parties agree to work together respectfully, honestly and in good faith throughout this process to try and reach a mutually agreeable settlement.

Resolving finances on divorce at Court can be extremely lengthy and costly. Engaging in non-court dispute resolution can be much cheaper and the process much shorter. Resolving matters out of Court can also reduce hostility and enables parties to remain in control of the decisions affecting their family rather than a third party, such as a Judge.

We have a number of collaboratively trained lawyers amongst our experienced Family Team here at Ramsdens Solicitors. If you are looking to resolve financial matters on divorce and seek advice about the available options, please contact our experienced Family Team - telephone: 01484 821500 or email:

The above article is for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any part of the information given.