How can I resolve a dispute between myself and my ex-partner?

When cohabiting couples find themselves in the unfortunate situation of their relationship breaking down, an already stressful and turbulent time can be compounded by disagreements and disputes. When a dispute arises between cohabiting couples, what are the options to finding a resolution?

Are court proceedings the only way?

Sometimes, court applications are made to resolve disputes between cohabiting couples; whether it is related to property or children. Court proceedings are expensive, time consuming and often involve a substantial time delay. If there are children involved, this can cause more friction between the co-parents, and consequently damage their co-parenting relationship.

Dealing with disputes in the court arena should be considered as a last resort, as there are other methods to resolving disputes that are more conducive to allowing two people who have had a relationship breakdown to continue on a positive co-parenting journey.

What are the resolution options available to cohabiting couples following a separation?


A mediator is an independent and impartial third party, who facilitates conversations regarding finances and/or children. The role of the mediator is to help the parties to reach an amicable agreement in a respectful and open way.

Mediation is a voluntary process, and both parties must be willing to engage in it. However, it is more cost effective than court proceedings and helps parties to reach a resolution together. The parties come together with their mediator and have discussions in a safe space, with the neutral mediator helping to keep discussions on track and focussed on the dispute at hand. Mediation is a very effective way of resolving disputes.


An arbitrator can be appointed who specialises in property and family law, and they will decide for you. The arbitrator is chosen by the parties and is someone who is impartial.

Similar to a decision made by a court, an arbitral award is binding on the parties. However, the process is different as it is quicker (and therefore cheaper) and the parties can ensure the person making the decision for them is a specialist in both property and family law.

A collaborative approach

Collaborative law is where each party appoints a lawyer who has had specialist collaborative training and the parties and their lawyers all meet to work towards reaching an agreement.

Reaching a resolution in a collaborative way ensures any potential co-parenting relationship remain intact and the parties are in control of the resolution they are reaching, rather than having a decision made for them. The time taken to reach a resolution varies but can be tailored to meet the needs of the couple.

How our cohabitation lawyers can help

Our expert cohabitation solicitors have a wide range of experience in dispute resolution, including trained mediators and collaborative lawyers. Our team can discuss your particular needs and advise you on the options available to you to settle your family dispute.

If you would like further information, please do not hesitate to contact one of the team who would be pleased to discuss your needs.