As the renowned lawyer Mahatma Gandhi once said, "peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it."

It is an ubiquitous and inescapable feature of the human condition that individuals do not universally agree on a variety of matters affecting their lives. Individuals approach issues from different perspectives, which can be influenced by their life experiences, education, values, personality and even the way in which the brain computes information. Cynics amongst us may even point out that self-interest can be an important influence in situations involving conflict.

Parenting is no different. It is common to find that two parents, whether living together or apart, will have different views about what is best for their children on a variety of matters, including (for example) care arrangements and education. Even with the best of intentions, some parents will struggle to reach consensus and may feel that an impasse has been reached. Naturally, parents will look to options available to them to resolve their dispute.

Often polarised by their respective positions, many parents may be driven to view their situation combatively and be drawn to litigation. Often, they will view the presence of conflict as being the issue which requires to be eradicated. Whilst litigation may be necessary and appropriate in some cases, it is hard to escape from the starkly adversarial nature of the process. Many involved come to realise that they can't shake hands with a clenched fist. Others are disappointed by the "win-lose" or "lose-lose" nature of litigation. When the core issue between parents is their communication, litigation offers no meaningful long-term solution for improvement. It can sometimes be seen as a means of papering over the cracks with an imposed decision. The mechanics of how those decisions are implemented in practice and wider issues affecting children can be neglected.

Many parents involved in conflict overlook an alternative dispute resolution method; Family Law Mediation. When parties embrace the concept that peace is about how to cope with, rather than eliminate, conflict, creative and lasting solutions can be created by them in a bespoke process which puts them firmly at the centre of decision making.

Family Law Mediation is a voluntary process which, with the help of an impartial third party (a trained Family Law Mediator), allows parties to discuss how their issues can be resolved. The Family Law Mediator will help the parties to focus on effective communication, mutual understanding and information gathering. This will, in turn, allow the parties to identify common ground and navigate the best way forward, with the Family Law Mediator helping to ensure that there is constructive dialogue. Whilst sitting down with one another in this way might seem a harder thing to do and elicit a strong emotional response, it can be a more positive and cost-effective process which involves less time delay.

Family Law Mediation recognises that there is more to parenting than just the superficial issues such as care arrangements. It helps parents to explore creatively how they communicate with one another in a way that benefits the children, look more deeply at issues affecting the children and see the bigger picture in a safe and confidential environment.

Our recent experience of the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we cannot deal with matters affecting our daily lives in the "normal" ways that we are used to. Dispute resolution is no different in the present climate. There are currently significant limitations on the ability to litigate disputes in family cases, the Scottish Court Service restricting their work to "essential business." With the present lockdown restrictions in place, there is an even greater case to be made out for parents to consider Family Law Mediation as a means of resolving disputes in a way that they can keep themselves and their families safe.

Brodies' Family Law Mediators have the technology in place to facilitate mediation online through a number of platforms. If you are in a dispute with your partner or ex-partner about matters involving your child or children, we have a number of Family Law Mediators (and members of CALM Scotland) who would be pleased to assist you navigate towards a positive solution.

Please do not hesitate to contact our Garry Sturrock, by email on for more information. Alternatively, you can contact any other member of our team in offices throughout Scotland. 


Garry Sturrock

Senior Associate