Family Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution

What We Do

We have a strong family law practice and extensive experience in the area of conciliatory family law.

We appreciate that separation and family difficulties are some of the most stressful experiences that you will have in your life. The distress caused by the failure of a relationship, the worry about the future, the disappointment in one’s life partner, the disputes about money and children and all the resultant insecurity are very hard to bear.

To add to all of this, being involved in a legal process can make things much worse. For that reason, when you first come and talk to us, we will explore ways of dealing with the problems without bringing them to the Courts.  We will look at the following options for you:


This is a method of Alternative Dispute Resolution. An independent mediator assists the parties to come to a voluntary settlement. It offers participants the opportunity to negotiate their own settlement which may be more flexible than court judgment.

Mediation is a confidential process and non-adversarial in style. It is driven by the parties and undertaken in good faith as a means of resolving their differences. A mediator is neutral, does not offer legal advice and does not adjudicate the rights or wrongs.

If agreement is reached, it is generally put in legal form in a Separation Agreement.

Collaborative law  

This is a new development which offers separating couples an alternative method for resolving family disputes. The aim is to resolve issues in a positive environment where the emphasis is on reaching a resolution that will work for everybody.  It is a four-way process where the separating couple sits down with their solicitors and everybody strives to achieve a resolution that will benefit the whole family.  For further information on collaborative practice check out

Negotiated separation agreement 

Very often, the solicitors for each party will be able to negotiate a separation agreement which is acceptable to both.

Family Law Courts

All of these methods require both parties to be very honest as to all matters including their assets, spending and income. If one party is not honest or an agreement can simply not be reached, it is difficult to avoid proceeding to Court. Here a judge of the family court will be asked to decide all matters and will have very wide discretion as to how assets are to be distributed.

The court process is unfortunately slow as it requires documentation to be exchanged in great detail and in a very formal way. Furthermore, it is generally quite expensive because of the time and documentation involved and the use of outside experts such as accountants, pension actuaries and barristers.

It is not the preferred option and we will do what we can to help you avoid this route. If it is unavoidable, we will be very clear in setting out:

  • What will happen
  • When it will happen and
  • How much it will cost

Your first step is to come and talk to us. We can have a look at what has happened and suggest solutions which will cause as little stress and expense as possible.

Helen Coughlan, head of our family law department, is a trained mediator and collaborative solicitor and very experienced in family law.

If, for whatever, reason you would rather a male solicitor, Niall Farrell, our managing partner who has extensive litigation and family law experience will deal with your case.

The service I received from Helen Coughlan was exceptional. My case was quite complex, and she guided me through from start to finish, was always there to answer any query I had and made everything less stressful for me. Her knowledge and professionalism is second to none and also on a personal level she cares about her clients and always made you feel at ease and cares about your wellbeing.

M.D., Family Law Client