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Navigating Non-Court Dispute Resolution (NCDR) Options:

A Guide for Clients of The Family Mediation Trust

Resolving family disputes outside the courtroom has become increasingly popular due to the flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and less adversarial nature of non-court dispute resolution (NCDR) options. The new family procedure rules provide several avenues for NCDR, each with unique processes and benefits. This guide explores these options, outlining the requirements to be a qualified practitioner in each area, and providing information on costs and legal aid availability.


Standard Mediation:

  • Process: Involves a neutral mediator helping both parties reach an agreement on various issues, such as financial arrangements and child custody.
  • Qualifications: Mediators must be accredited by the Family Mediation Council (FMC).
  • Cost: Typically ranges from £130 to £200 per session. Some mediators offer a fixed fee for specific services.
  • Legal Aid: Available for eligible clients.

Hybrid Mediation:

  • Process: Combines elements of standard mediation with other dispute resolution methods, allowing mediators to meet parties separately if needed.
  • Qualifications: Similar to standard mediation, with additional training in hybrid techniques.
  • Cost: The same as standard mediation, but may take longer and other professional fees need to be factored in.
  • Legal Aid: Available for eligible clients.

Child-Inclusive Mediation (CIM):

  • Process: Includes the child’s voice in the mediation process, allowing them to express their views.
  • Qualifications: Mediators must have specialized training to conduct child-inclusive sessions.
  • Cost: Similar to standard mediation, but can vary depending on the additional time and resources required.
  • Legal Aid: Available for eligible clients.

Collaborative Law

Process: Each party hires a collaboratively trained lawyer, and all parties agree to resolve issues without going to court. The process involves a series of meetings to negotiate a settlement.

  • Qualifications: Lawyers must be trained and accredited in collaborative law.
  • Cost: Can be higher due to the involvement of multiple lawyers, typically ranging from £200 to £500 per hour.
  • Legal Aid: Not available.

Round Table

Process: Involves direct negotiations between parties and their lawyers in a round table setting to reach a settlement.

  • Qualifications: Practising family lawyers can conduct round table negotiations, though specific accreditation is not mandatory.
  • Cost: Similar to collaborative law, ranging from £200 to £500 per hour.
  • Legal Aid: Not available.


Process: An arbitrator makes a binding decision on the dispute after hearing evidence and arguments from both parties.

  • Qualifications: Arbitrators must be accredited by the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators (IFLA).
  • Cost: Typically ranges from £1,000 to £3,000 per day, plus administrative fees.
  • Legal Aid: Not available.


Process: A combination of arbitration and mediation, where parties first attempt to mediate and, if unsuccessful, move to arbitration for a binding decision.

  • Qualifications: Practitioners must be qualified in both mediation and arbitration.
  • Cost: Reflects both processes, generally higher than choosing one method alone.
  • Legal Aid: Not available.

One Couple, One Lawyer

Process: A single lawyer provides neutral legal advice to both parties to facilitate a mutual agreement.

  • Qualifications: The lawyer must be specially trained to provide impartial advice to both parties.
  • Cost: Typically lower than hiring separate lawyers for each party, ranging from £150 to £350 per hour.
  • Legal Aid: Not available.

Early Neutral Evaluation

Process: An expert gives an early, informal assessment of the merits of each party's case to assist in negotiations.

  • Qualifications: The evaluator should be an experienced family law practitioner or retired judge.
  • Cost: Ranges from £1,000 to £2,500, depending on the evaluator's expertise and the case's complexity.
  • Legal Aid: Not available.

Private Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) Judge

Process: A retired judge or senior barrister provides an informal judgment to help parties reach a financial settlement.

  • Qualifications: Must be a qualified judge or senior legal professional with extensive family law experience.
  • Cost: Typically between £2,000 and £4,000 per day.
  • Legal Aid: Not available.

Finding a Qualified Practitioner

Accreditation and Directories:

Steps to Find a Practitioner:

  1. Check Accreditation: Ensure the practitioner is accredited by relevant bodies (FMC, IFLA).
  2. Professional Directories: Use professional directories to find qualified practitioners.

Costs and Legal Aid

General Cost Overview:

  • Mediation: £100-£150 per hour
  • Collaborative Law: £200-£500 per hour
  • Arbitration: £1,000-£3,000 per day
  • One Couple, One Lawyer: £150-£350 per hour
  • Private FDR Judge: £2,000-£4,000 per day

Legal Aid Availability:

  • Available for mediation.
  • Not available for collaborative law, arbitration, or private FDR.


Exploring NCDR options offers various benefits, including cost savings, faster resolutions, and maintaining amicable relationships. Understanding the qualifications required for practitioners and the associated costs can help you choose the best option for your situation. Always consider seeking legal advice to navigate these processes effectively and ensure fair outcomes. For more information and to find qualified practitioners, visit:

By leveraging these resources and understanding the available options, you can make informed decisions that best suit your family's needs. 

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