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If a couple – whether married or unmarried – is unable to agree a financial settlement or child arrangement through negotiation, the traditional route leads to a day (or more) in the local Family Court, where a single Judge will make a binding decision. 

This is a far from perfect process. In recent years the Court system has suffered repeated cuts to its funding.  Court closures and staff reductions have led to serious delays and significant work overload for the Judges.

The Court process also carries with it 'litigation risk', under which the Court's decision will often depend on the inclination of a particular judge, making the outcome more uncertain.

You – like all litigants – will want the the Court to deal with your case as quickly and fairly as possible. 

We believe that mediation provides most Clients with a better and substantially cheaper solution.

What is Mediation?

There are two types of mediation applicable to Family Law.

1. Traditional family mediation. This system is controlled by the Family Mediation Council and follows a set procedure.

The system was introduced by successive Governments to encourage parties to settle their disputes.  Under this system parties are required to attend an initial mediation information session (called a MIAM).  Participation in further, sequential, mediation sessions is optional.

In our view this traditional process rarely leads to settlement:   the MIAM session can simply be treated as a minor hurdle, and added cost, on the road to Court. 

2. At Woodford Stauffer we are pioneering a different mediation process, bringing together our experience of family and civil mediation. 

A half day or a full day is set aside for the mediation.  Both parties agree on an independent Mediator (always a qualified and experienced Family Lawyer).

Each party attends the chosen mediation venue with his or her legal representatives where they will each be provided with a private room.

The parties need not meet at all unless they wish to.  The Mediator will shuttle between each party, discussing the issues, providing comment and suggestion and narrowing the differences in an effort to reach agreement.

The whole process is without prejudice, and off the record.   If settlement is not achieved, nothing said or written during the mediation can ever be referred to again.

If the parties do agree a settlement, the legal representatives can draw up a legally binding agreement which both parties will sign before leaving the building.  That agreement will then be ratified by the Court, bringing the whole legal process to an end. 

If mediation succeeds it can halve the overall cost of a divorce.  If it fails it is likely that it will still have been a cost effective procedure overall since the process will, almost inevitably, reduce the work to be done in preparing for trial.

We will not suggest mediation where we think it is likely to fail.  But, where appropriate, we will always advocate mediation since, if it succeeds, the savings on costs and emotional distress are so great.

Such is our belief in mediation that (as well as our own in-house Mediators), we have a dedicated mediation suite at our office so that our Clients are able to attend mediation “on their own patch” in comfortable and reassuring surroundings.  


We promise that we will

  1. Listen to you
  2. Communicate with you
  3. Advise you and, above all
  4. Fight for you

It may be hard now – but we will see you through to the light at the end of the tunnel.

Contact us by phone or email whenever you are ready.

Clive Barker was exceptionally understanding of how I felt and that transferred back into his professional capacity.

Case Ref. T922/2

Clive Barker - very professional and knowledgable. I would consult Clive again if I needed advice in the future. Very efficient service - all staff polite and friendly

Case Ref. L1646/1

Clive and Amanda, thank you, it was an experience I didn’t think I would go through but everything ran as smoothly as it could.

Case Ref. S3377/1

Family Mediation team

Clive Barker

Solicitor Consultant

Head of Family Law

Clive Barker

Direct Dial:01252 550433

Email Clive Barker

Clive is a Consultant; he qualified as a Solicitor in 1968 and has always specialised in family law.

He is the Head of our Family Law Department and has a particular interest in difficult or complex financial disputes, and property disputes between unmarried couples.

Jennifer Lee


Family Department

Jennifer Lee

Direct Dial:01252 550432

Email Jennifer Lee

Jennifer qualified as a Solicitor in 2014. She specialises in family law and, within that discipline, has particular specialism in disputes over children and domestic violence issues.

Jon Beck

Solicitor/Barrister (New Zealand, non-practising)

Family Department

Jon Beck

Direct Dial:01252 550441

Email Jon Beck

Jon qualified and practised as a Barrister and Solicitor in his native New Zealand, before moving to the UK in 2010, where he has specialised in family law.

Jon has a particular interest in divorces, the separation of unmarried couples involving difficult property disputes and cases with an international flavour. He has earned particular respect for his success handling cases in which a parent seeks to remove a child from the jurisdiction.