There are many different options available for separating couples and it is important to think about the approach that you would like to take to resolve your matter.

At Consilia Legal we generally favour Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation and try to avoid lengthy contested court proceedings where possible as litigation can adversely impact upon mental wellbeing, is very costly and does not always achieve the right outcome for either party involved.

When deciding how you would like to progress your case, there are a number of different options available to you including:

Do it Yourself

You and your ex-partner may have decided that you are able to reach an agreement directly between you without the need for help from legal professionals.

In relation to matters concerning arrangements for your children, any agreement that you reach between you does not necessarily have to be drawn up into a written document. If both you and your ex-partner are content with the arrangements for your children, you can simply implement those arrangements. If there is an issue in the future, at that point you may wish to seek legal advice or attend family mediation in an attempt to resolve matters and/or document the arrangements.

In relation to child maintenance payments, you are able to make a claim directly through the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) but this is not necessary if you have reached a family-based arrangement directly between you.

In relation to financial matters, in circumstances where you are married, it is important to document the terms of any financial settlement agreed between you by way of a document known as a Consent Order. If you are not married or have decided not to start divorce proceedings, the agreement can be recorded in a Deed of Separation.

You will require a solicitor to prepare the documentation recording the agreement and as detailed below, it is advisable to seek legal advice on the terms you have reached to ensure they are fair.

Solicitor Negotiations

Where you and your spouse/ex-partner are unable to reach an agreement directly or you wish to seek advice from a solicitor before formalising matters, you may wish to instruct a solicitor to help you negotiate an agreement.

This does not mean that matters need to become acrimonious between you and your ex-partner. Here at Consilia Legal, we are members of Resolution and follow a code of practice ( to deal with matters amicably and promote a constructive approach to family issues. At Consilia Legal, head of our family law team, Laura Clapton is the Chair of Resolution in the North and West Yorkshire region and as a team, we pride ourselves on achieving the best outcomes for our clients in the most cost-effective manner.

If you have not already reached a settlement with your ex-partner, your solicitor will negotiate a settlement on your behalf with your former partner’s solicitor. More often than not matters can be resolved following solicitor negotiations but, if that is not possible, it may be necessary to make a referral to family mediation or make a formal application to the court.


Family Mediation

Family Mediation is a process whereby a trained family mediators facilitates discussions between separated couples to help them resolve their family law issues. You can discuss children and financial matters within mediation. The mediator remains impartial at all times and they do not act on behalf of either party. They are unable to provide legal advice, but they can provide legal information. Mediators actively encourage parties, if they wish, to also obtain their own independent legal advice whilst engaging in the mediation process.

At the start of the mediation process, each party is invited to an initial mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM). If both parties are willing to mediate and the mediator has deemed that the matter is suitable for mediation, then a joint mediation session will be arranged. Sessions generally last 1 to 2 hours and on average three joint sessions take place but you may require more or less depending on your circumstances. A qualified mediator will facilitate discussions between you and your ex-partner either round a table or in two separate rooms.

Following mediation, if a successful outcome is reached in relation to children matters this is then recorded in a Memorandum of Understanding. This is not legally binding but sets out clearly the arrangements you have made.

In relation to financial matters, a Memorandum of Understanding is prepared setting out the proposals reached together with an Open Financial Statement recording the financial information you have each provided within the mediation.

For more about family mediation, please see our dedicated mediation site.


Court Proceedings

Individuals will often choose to instruct a solicitor to represent them through the court process as the thought of acting in person or negotiating with their former partner can be very daunting. At Consilia Legal we can tailor the advice and assistance to each person’s individual needs whether you wish us to be involved from the beginning to the end of your matter or you wish to instruct us to carry out specific pieces of work. At Consilia Legal we pride ourselves on delivering the best service no matter what each client requires.

Even if court proceedings are issued by you or your ex-partner, our aim will still be to achieve a settlement for you so that any court order can be made by consent. However, if that’s not possible, your case will be heard at a final hearing by a judge or magistrates who will determine the outcome of your matter.

There is a legal requirement for an individual attend a MIAM before making an application to court in relation to most family law cases.


Arbitration is used to determine the outcome of your case in a less formal setting than Court. Both parties need to agree to deal with matters through arbitration before the process can be undertaken and in most cases, parties are still required to have a solicitor to act on their behalf.

Arbitration can deal with family law disputes in relation to finances and some children issues, however, this is not always appropriate if further investigation needs to be carried out in relation to concerns regarding the welfare of children.

The arbitrator will deal with the case from start to finish. If the case cannot be settled, the Arbitrator will make a final decision that will be final and binding on both parties.

People choose arbitration because it a quicker process than formal court proceedings, it is confidential and can be more flexible. You can choose when the hearing takes place, agree on the arbitrator appointed and your case can be heard a lot quicker than current court proceedings.

For further information on the arbitration process, please see the Institute of family law Arbitrators:

Collaborative Law

In order to use the collaborative law process, you would need to appoint a solicitor who is collaboratively trained.

At the outset of the process, both parties and the legal advisers sign a participation agreement that commits them to resolve matters without court assistance. This means that if you cannot resolve matters in the collaborative process, your legal adviser is unable to represent you at any future court proceedings and you would need to instruct a new solicitor at that stage. The reason for this is to ensure that everyone is committed to reaching a settlement outside of the court process.

The process often involves face to face meetings between the parties and their respective solicitors. You will both have your solicitor by your side throughout the process.

For further information about the collaborative law process, please see the leaflet prepared by Resolution:

Whichever option you are considering, we offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case and explain each option available to you. You can contact our highly experienced family law team by completing our Contact Form.

Contact Sarah

What Our Clients Say About Our Family Law Services

Laura Clapton has been brilliant and very professional through the Mediation process. I highly recommend her.

Jen Huggett

Absolutely five star service from Laura Clapton and her team, always kept informed of progress, and Laura was always available on the end of the phone to answer any questions. Highly recommended, thank you Consilia Legal.

Jane C

Professional and personal. Vicky was very caring and listened to my issue, advice was clear and easy to understand. Vicky ensured my mind was at ease and I knew my options. Excellent service. Sarah really knows the family sector, she puts you at ease instantly and ensures you are aware of all the options. Would definitely recommend this service. Thank you for your help.

Catherine White

Vicky guided me through the legal context of an employment and was very efficent, approachable and supportive. I would highly recommend this company and Vicky to others who need legal support and advice. Many thanks.

Maureen Sheridan

Had a great experience working with Victoria. Felt completely comfortable asking all kinds of questions and she always explained them really well.

Julia Mariani

I often get clients asking if I can assist with employment and family matters. As this is not my area of specialism I am conscious to help assist by passing them onto a trusted source who will look after the client in the best manner possible and with the same approach and ethos as myself. For employment and family matters I recommend to Consilia Legal as they contact the client promptly and provide practical no nonsense advice at a great value. I have no hesitation in recommending their services and will continue to direct my clients to them for this type of legal advice.

John Bailes

What our clients say about Consilia Legal on

  • Honest , sensible and efficient advice given over telephone . Very impressed . Would recommend

    alison purdy

    Consilia Legal was recommended by a friend. Victoria provided excellent guidance in a timely manner. Would definitely recommend.

    Alison Metcalfe
  • I emailed Sarah at Consilia and received a very quick response.
    Sarah agreed to call me the following day and called me at the agreed time so no waiting for the call!
    Sarah was fantastic, she offered great advice and left me feeling alot more positive and informed on my situation.
    I cannot recommend highly enough, professional and caring and highly informative.
    Thank you

    kate Fricker

    Great service provided by Andy from initial contact all the way through to completion. Very helpful and knowledgeable and helped to get everything sorted out quickly. I would highly recommend.

    liam miller
  • Andy Boyde made the process straight forward and easy (Redundancy contract). I found him very knowledgable and was able to answer all my questions with ease. I would recommend the firm for employment matter.

    Mark Timmons

    I was delighted with the advice and help Andy gave me. He was extremely helpful in a very stressful time and I would highly recommend anyone looking for legal advice - FIRST CLASS !!

    Nick Hall
  • I would like to say a big thank you to Emma Cartlidge Employment Solicitor. She was extremely professional, friendly and polite and very thorough in her work. Emma helped me with my matter making sure to stay in touch and keep me fully informed at all stages. The service from Consillia Legal has been amazing. Everyone I have spoken to has been super friendly and so helpful including Matt on Reception and Victoria who I spoke to for initial advice. This is definitely a 5-star rated law firm and I would not hesitate to recommend Emma and her colleagues. A big thank you !


    Marie Walsh is undoubtedly the best employment solicitor in Leeds, if not the whole of Yorkshire. I always knew this from her great reputation and she recently assisted me with a very complex and difficult matter. Marie handled the situation with a pragmatic approach and endless patience. I cannot recommend her enough - she is an absolute superstar! I also dealt with Andy Boyde in her absence who was extremely professional and great to deal with.

    Bin Sparkes
  • Andy Boyle provided a very friendly, good and fast customer service. I would recommend using this practice.

    Reiss Malone

    I could not have asked any more from Andy. He was really friendly and helped me through a very difficult time. He did not waist time, both to make sure we resolved the matter quickly but also to keep cost to a minimum. I’m extremely happy with his services.

    Tatiana Sebastiao
  • I had to get a Solicitor a pretty short notice, and Andy was able to see me the same day. He made me feel very at ease and explained everything to me so I could understand it better. I would highly recommend Consilia to everyone
    Thank you again Andy for your fantastic advice and support

    Kelly Rawson

    I received clear, straightforward advice from Andy Boyde. I always felt that Andy was acting in my best interest. When I met him, Andy's approach was approachable and relaxed but still very professional.

    Martin Curran
  • Consilia provided a great service during a difficult period when I was made redundant. Vicky showed great professionalism and expert knowledge in addition to genuinely caring about resolving my situation. I would highly recommend them.

    Phil Sugden

    Andy from Consilia Legal was fabulous in providing support and advise in what was a very difficult period in my working life. We managed to get a fair deal for my settlement and all with in a short space of time. Once again thank you Andy

    Richard Pickles
  • Laura and the team have been an incredible help in my divorce. Through a very difficult time they have always been on hand to offer exceptional advice and assistance. I have always felt reassured by their professionalism and care. Thank You.

    tim capper

    Consilia were fantastic helping me deal with a redundancy issue. They were helpful and professional. Really put my mind at ease knowing I had their help

    Robert Cubbon
  • I recently had occasion to require the services of an employment lawyer and was recommended to this firm by a professional colleague. I have dealt with many lawyers around the world in the most complex business transactions and personally. I can honestly say I have never received the level of consideration and service from any other legal firm to match that of Consilia Legal. From the moment they picked up the phone to my initial call to the matter being finalised in record quick time; their service and attention to detail was never less than exemplary. Their legal advice was also spot on. It is extraordinary to see this level of service across every aspect of a business and it is a huge credit to Marie Walsh and her team (especially Emma Cartlidge) that they are all able to make their clients feel so welcome and so cared for. I would heartily recommend them to anyone.

    Stephen Wilson

    I recently needed legal help with a settlement agreement post a redundancy. I have never had the need to use a solicitor's services before. Going by the great reviews on Consilia I decided to give their services a go. I had the pleasure to be attended by Emma Cartlidge and she made the experience simple and easy. The offer was reviewed and amended with precision and I needn't worry about anything. I would recommend Consilia to anyone nervous about using legal services and in need of employment law advice.

    mszkamio .
  • Superb professional, supportive & friendly service by Laura and her colleagues.

    Their responses to both emails and telephone calls were quick and precise.

    I could and not of asked for a better service during a very difficult period, and would not hesitate to use again.


    Steve Wallis

    Thanks Laura and team at Consilia Legal. Great service and such a pragmatic and human approach to the legal system. Fitted really well with my personal values. Truly aimed at being conciliatory rather than adversarial.

    David Beaumont
  • Thanks Laura and team at Consilia Legal. Great service and such a pragmatic and human approach to the legal system. Fitted really well with my personal values. Truly aimed at being conciliatory rather than adversarial.

    David Beaumont

    Emma was amazing for me, and I would highly recommend her and her firm for any employment related issues. She helps with making it easy to understand and makes the whole process as swift and efficient as possible. Thank you for all of your help.

    Terri-Rochelle Ward
  • Andy Boyde at Consilia Legal was more than helpful I highly recommend him for he went above and beyond. If your looking for a good honest solicitor who is genuine and transparent throughout then look no further.
    Danielle Phillip

    Danielle Phillip

    I would have no hesitation in recommending Consilia Legal. Being in the more than capable hands of Marie & Andy collectively, helped me through an employment issue, which was difficult at times. However the support I received was highly proffessional, with a very caring approach at all times & they guided me through the process. Thank you so much. Elaine

    Elaine Dale
  • Sarah Manning was great - really efficient and supportive. I would recommend her to anyone.

    Leah Gore

    Marie and her staff have been very helpful. Marie had assisted me previously with an employment law issues so I had no hesitation in engaging her again. She helped me through an unpleasant job related matter when I was at a low ebb and feeling unable to fight my own corner. As before Marie gave sound, straight forward advice and took over the handling of communication with my employer until the matter was resolved. When I had to take action myself Marie was always there to consult if I was worried about something. I would thoroughly recommend Consilia Legal to anyone.

    Amanda Keers
  • Marie, Andy, Victoria and Emma were exceptional in their help, advice and support – all done with a non-nonsense super friendly approach. Really took the stress out of a difficult corporate employment process. I felt safe and confident in their capable hands, recommending them highly.

    Sophie Webb

    Excellent personal support, advice and understanding from Marie, Emma and the Team, thanks for all you have done.
    Highly recommended

    Ian Reed
  • Received a really good service from Marie and the team including Emma, who offered valuable support throughout. I contacted Consilia following a recommendation from a union representative. Was given great advise through her trusted associate who offered an accurate and professional assessment. Marie secured a really good outcome due to her knowledge, perseverance, conscientiousness and genuine desire to try and get the best outcome on my behalf. A lot of genuine empathy and respect expressed and a brilliant negotiator. Very well informed, experienced and brilliant communicator. True to her word re costs as discussion was upfront and honest. Very reasonable rate compared to other firms. Would recommend to others Thank you very much!

    Elaben Mistry Jackson

    Received a really good service from Marie and the team including Emma, who offered valuable support throughout. I contacted Consilia following a recommendation from a union representative. Was given great advise through her trusted associate who offered an accurate and professional assessment. Marie secured a really good outcome due to her knowledge, perseverance, conscientiousness and genuine desire to try and get the best outcome on my behalf. A lot of genuine empathy and respect expressed and a brilliant negotiator. Very well informed, experienced and brilliant communicator. True to her word re costs as discussion was upfront and honest. Very reasonable rate compared to other firms. Would recommend to others Thank you very much!

    Elaben Mistry Jackson
  • Very professional and got the right result for me in a very timely abs efficient manner. Great service, good advice and an excellent result I couldn’t have got on my own

    Jon Geldart

    Excellent service from Laura Clapton guiding me through a difficult divorce process. Super efficient, professional and carries out the work with understanding and compassion for your situation. Would highly recommend and have already recommended.

    Jo Allan
  • Professional, swift responses and detailed answered. Received THE BEST customer service from Andy Boyle at Consilia. Definitely Recomendd!

    Arooj Iqbal

    Professional and received good customer service. I would really recommend them as they helped me to negotiate my way out of a difficult work situation on the best terms possible. Andy was very polite and knowledgable.

    Diane Holden
  • Consilia have done a good job of mediating the discussions across family and financial matters. Quick responses, good communication and a helpful/flexible approach.

    Rob Hennessy

    Victoria Horner offered me employment law advice over the telephone and via email which was impartial but ultimately a game changer in the redundancy situation I found myself in with my employer. Victoria’s advice was instrumental in allowing me to negotiate redundancy and meant I was fully abreast of the law when having conversations with my employer. Victoria presented to me options which I have not yet considered or been made aware of a being entitled to which placed me in a stronger position when in dialogue with the HR department I was dealing with. This made me feel more empowered and gave me back some control during a very unsettling and confidence eroding time. Thank you Victoria.

    Sarah De Biase
  • I had a great service from Laura and her team at Consilia Legal and would certainly recommend them to others. The service was very friendly and informative keeping me up to date in a timely manner and been on hand to offer advice when needed. Thankyou.

    Matthew Bell

    I was recommended Andy Boyde of Consilia Legal by a good friend in the profession to handle a personal issue. Dealing with Andy has been a pleasure from start to finish. Calls and emails were answered and dealt with in a timely manner and he gave a great deal of attention to run through legal jargon in layman's terms. Thoroughly recommended.

    Michael Dockwray
  • I dealt with Vicky at Consilia Legal and I couldn't thank her and the team enough. Very fast and efficient and will go out of her way to help in anyway possible. Would recommend over and over again. Thank you

    Lauren Clark

    Laura Clapton has been brilliant and very professional through the Mediation process. I highly recommend her.

    Jen Huggett
  • I was most impressed with the speed and efficiency which Andy Boyde at Consilia Legal handled my case. I selected Consilia Legal after reviewing previous feedback which had positive comments regarding the areas I was interested in. The way my case was handled turned a stressful situation into a quick and stress free process. I would have no hesitation in recommending Consilia Legal.

    Craig S

    Great service from Andy and the team. Handled my case very professionally and I was given excellent advice. Very informative and always responded promptly. Would highly recommend.

    Adam Orange
  • Very quick and reassuring response from Andy and the team here after a very difficult situation at work. Referred from Citizen Advice Bureau because all other firms seemed less bothered about my needs versus their fees. Andy gave great advice and helped explore my options so I could respond appropriately without being cornered by my work. Ended up with a very amicable outcome! In difficult times you need people like Consilia to help guide and support you... thanks guys

    Mirra Riz

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