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Liz investigates collaborative law and mediation

Liz is taking part in the “SOS Brighton Divorce Makeover”. This means she will benefit from some free advice and inspiration from a selection of our SOS exhibitors who have generously donated their time to show what options and choices are available to someone going through divorce or relationship breakup.

3 December 2009


I had the pleasure of spending some time with Liz and both being mothers of 3 and both proactive, positive people by nature, I really enjoyed getting to know Liz a bit better and learning more about her situation.

Like myself, Liz did not get married or have any legal protection in place when she gave up her career to have children, and we both agreed that it is important to encourage others who want to live together without marrying, to ALWAYS create a living together agreement. Without one, your legal position if the relationship breaks down is very tenuous indeed, since common law marriage is a myth.

Liz had productive phone conversations with Alan Larkin of Mayo Wynne Baxter LLP, who are a Collaborative Law Firm, and also with John Stebbing of Stephen Rimmer LLP who is a trained Mediator.  Liz tells us of her experience:

“Alan called me that evening and we chatted for about 90 mins! He is lovely and I felt at ease talking to him and seemed to bond well. I gave him an outline of my situation and where I’m at now.

I was made aware of collaborative law and how it can be beneficial, rather than attending court.

Alan Larkin

However, after Alan and John heard my story they both agreed that at the current time, it would seem that mediation is my best way forward as my Ex does not have a lawyer. Alan informed me that I could change lawyers, should I wish. In any case I learned from my Ex that he does not have a lawyer and he won’t be using one until he reaches court.

Both John and Alan thought that my Ex may need a more sensitive approach, should he wish to mediate. He possibly needs the option of choosing a male mediator/collaborative lawyer as opposed to a female. He may feel less intimidated that way.

They both gave me lots of really good advice and information. Alan asked that I keep in touch and let him know my outcome.

At this point, however, neither mediation nor collaborative law are appropriate in my situation. I informed my Ex that it would be beneficial to consider mediation but he refused.”

Linda Lamb, Alan Larkin. Robert Williams, Charles Le May: MayoWynneBaxter Collaborative family law

Family lawyers who look for solutions.  Firm provides all legal services.  London & Brighton events.


I think Liz is fantastic – she is able to access new information, new ways of proceeding, and keeping her options open – whilst at the same time juggling family life, her love of singing, and a difficult breakup that is creating currently a perilous financial situation.  I think it takes great courage to explore new and less aggressive ways of dealing with a difficult life situation like break up, when most people’s reaction is to fight fire with fire.

John Stebbing is a trained mediator at Stephen Rimmer LLP. John’s advice regarding the benefits of mediation were as follows:


Mediation may well be the best placed option if you can get your partner to PARTICIPATE.

The approach either directly or through your lawyer needs to be sensitive to his character and background.

You can bring home to both your partner and yourself in mediation the SPECIAL attributes of your family now, and for the future.

It is a forum where you can both center on your children’s needs, and plan how you can live apart, both caring for them, but with STYLE.

Neither of you benefit from conflict, yet the children will greatly benefit form a working relationship being created out of the adversity of relationship breakdown.

Mediation is not a soft option, but through a series of meetings you and can locate the agenda that can address home, financial support, and care of the children by you both through to adulthood.

It can save many weeks of legal correspondence, plus untold anxiety, particularly if the specter of court then looms.

But, Mediation needs you both to buy in.  Your lawyer can raise the option, but I recommend in a way that emphasizes your partner is as much in control of the selection, and choice of option, as you are.

Or you can ask the mediator to approach him and explain how he, or she, may be able to help you both.

Meetings can be arranged around your work schedule – courts notoriously cannot.

The first session will lead to more explanation of mediation as a process, and the fixing of the agenda for further discussion.  Data may need to be collected before progressing, particularly if money issues are a problem.  However child issues can be looked at with immediacy, giving a chance of early resolution far quicker than your lawyer can negotiate, or a court decide.

And, it will be a solution that both your partner and you have invested in.

Why not?  It’s your children, and family – why let others dictate the outcome?

So, I’m hoping that subtly you can bring your partner to the mediation table.

Good luck,

Kind regards



John Stebbing: Stephen Rimmer LLP Family law and mediation Brighton event.

25 November 2009

Before meeting SOS mediators and collaborative lawyers, Liz experienced her first session of coaching.  Liz had already had positive experiences of counseling, and wasn’t sure if ‘coaching’ was something she really wanted to try. But luckily – she did! After a coaching session with SOS Exhibitor Julia Armstrong, this was what Liz had to say:


“I have seen Julia and she is wonderful amazing and inspiring woman. Really enjoyed being with her and for so long, until 2pm. I learnt alot today, despite already having counseling and spiritual counseling for a time. I learned new tricks in the first 10 mins. She even gave me a signed copy of her book for inspiration. It was also good because she shared her own experiences too. We focused on mirroring and reflections and the core – and being able to see ‘your stuff’.”

Julia Armstrong is an experienced coach, author, athlete and healer

The story will continue, when Liz meets other SOS experts and professionals who we hope will empower her further.


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