Alternatives to Court

There are a number of alternative options to bringing about a resolution to financial claims arising from divorce. The best way for you will depend on your individual circumstances, but there can be real benefits to alternative forms of dispute resolution such as mediation, arbitration and collaborative law.


Mediation is an option for those separating couples who want to work together to reach an agreement about finances or children matters but are not able to deal with those discussions by themselves.

Mediation is a voluntary process, the mediator is chosen by you both and is neutral and therefore cannot give advice to either of you. The mediator will encourage both parties to seek independent legal advice to discuss particular legal issues or the range of settlement options, both parties are then encouraged to return to the mediation process. The mediator is there to encourage you both to discuss and explore settlement options.

Read more about the Divorce Mediation process.


Family Law arbitration was launched in 2012 by the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators to enable family financial disputes to be dealt with by arbitration.

Arbitration is a process to which both parties sign an agreement confirming that the arbitrator’s decision will be final and binding. Arbitration can only be discontinued if both parties agree this and the arbitrator replaced only by agreement of both parties or order of the court. The grounds for securing such an order are limited.

The identity of the arbitrator is agreed by both parties and once the arbitrator is appointed they will have a wide discretion and significant powers to manage the case. The arbitrator can therefore decide procedural matters such as what evidence is provided, the appointment of any experts and the questions to be put to the experts and the arbitrator can also make interim awards such as interim maintenance.

When determining the issue of financial provision it will be with reference to the laws of England and Wales, as it is in the courts.

Arbitration is an option for those separating couples who cannot reach an agreement and know that a third party decision is required but they want to avoid the delay of court proceedings.

Collaborative Divorce

Underpinning the collaborative law process is a written agreement in which you and your former partner commit to reaching an agreement and settling matters without going to court. Both of you along with your solicitors will work together to bring about an agreement. This is a process that minimises correspondence, as negotiations and important decisions take place in what are called 4 way meetings.

Read more about the Collaborative Divorce process.

Initial Fixed Fee Consultation

Come and talk to us. You’ll find us empathetic, keen to help and with a wealth of experience. We offer a fixed fee consultation of £120 for the first appointment. You will be advised on the options open to you and the possible outcomes. Our priority is to ensure that you have a clear understanding of the path ahead and the challenges involved in achieving your goals.

Barr Ellison Law Leading Legal 500 Firm 2024Barr Ellison Law has a small but highly esteemed family, divorce and wealth protection practice, led by Sarah Martin. Her work focuses predominantly on complex financial divorces, both UK and cross-border, and is highly regarded for her experience in private children matters. Associate Karen Anker has vast experience in financial matters, arrangements for children and relocation disputes. She also advises on also wealth protection, including pre- and post-marital agreements and cohabitation agreements. The team is praised for ‘the impeccable quality of their work and advice’.
Legal 500 Guide

‘Sarah Martin and Karen Anker provide a top class service at this firm. The quality of their work and advice is, in my view, impeccable.’

‘Sarah Martin really cares about her clients and she does in fact go the extra mile. She has complex work which she handles with real skill and diligence.’

‘A boutique team. Focus on holistic support of client when going through the process of litigation.’

‘Sarah Martin: thinking of every possible avenue a case could travel. Gives unrivalled level of support to clients. Clients always feel they have a team 100% on their side.’

‘A very experienced family team in Sarah Martin and Karen Anker. Both very well respected within the Cambridge family law community and beyond.’

‘Karen Anker is an exceptionally proactive, dedicated and extremely talented family lawyer/collaborative practitioner. Her quick mind, extensive legal knowledge and ability to think outside the box has led to her being respected as one of Cambridge’s finest collaborative practitioners. She will leave no stone unturned in pursuit of the best possible outcome for her clients.’

‘Sarah Martin is a knowledgeable, approachable and empathetic solicitor who is adept at calming any given situation. A versatile practitioner with a gentle manner that hides a steely focus to get the best for her clients.’

‘A very experienced family team in Sarah Martin and Karen Anker. Both very well respected within the Cambridge family law community and beyond.’