Mediation or amicable Negotiation – What’s the difference?

Man and woman sitting on sofa looking away from one another
Originally published on 21st June 2019 at 9:40 AM

When I made the sad decision that my marriage was over, I was terrified about how my ex and I were going to sort stuff out. I knew we’d have to talk about the kids, and where we would both live and who would get what in terms of savings, pensions, and financial support so I thought mediation would be the best way forward.  What scared me, however, was how I was going to hold my own in mediation with a man who negotiated for a living.

I understand now, having talked to thousands of divorcing couples through my work at amicable that this is a common fear. Mediation works well when the playing field is level and the agreement you are coming to fits squarely in the middle of what the courts find acceptable. But there are some downsides to mediation, and this is evident by the falling numbers of people using it to sort out their finances in a divorce.

We set up amicable to bring together the best bits of mediation but add a level of intervention and advice that mediation often lacks. In our negotiation service, you work with a sensible, pragmatic person (your divorce coach) who is trained in what the law says and who offers negotiation support to help you apply the law to your circumstances. We won’t take sides, but neither will we leave it up to you to navigate unchartered territory. Here’s a summary of how amicable negotiation and mediation differ.

  amicable Mediation


You work together as a couple


Yes Yes


You stay in control of the process


Yes Yes


You have someone to say what’s fair and what’s not as well as what’s legal


Yes – we will give you a pragmatic view and explain what’s legal as well as why legal advice to each of you may differ No – mediation is a facilitation where YOU decide what is right for you


You have access to support & guidance outside of the meetings


Yes No – mediation takes place in a series of three-way meetings. On-going support is not included
You can meet individually with your coach/mediator Yes – if you need to speak to your divorce coach on your own you can do so – we will talk to you about the rules around confidentiality

No – mediation usually takes place with you both in one room.

In some cases, shuttle mediation can be done if it's not safe for you to be in the same room


You can do a MIAM (necessary if you need to ask the court to resolve issues that you cannot agree on)


No. You will need to find a specially trained mediator or use the amicable arbitration service to resolve your impasse Yes – if you wish to make an application to court because mediation has broken down a specially trained mediator will complete a MIAM


You can do the whole divorce process including writing up legal documents in one place


Yes – amicable is a one-stop-shop. We write up your agreement and draft your legal documents No – you’ll need a lawyer to review and write up your agreements


Prices are fixed with no hidden costs


Yes – we offer a fixed price service that you can split into instalments and legal drafting costs are included. Our premium service is unlimited, meaning you can have as many meetings as you need to get things sorted No – you will pay per meeting and process are rarely fixed fee. You will need to ask a solicitor to review your agreement and turn it into a legally binding financial order at an extra cost

If you’d like to find out more about which service is right for you we offer one-hour coaching sessions to help you decide your separation options.  Alternatively, you can call us on 0203 004 4695 or email [email protected]

Book a one hour coaching session

If you have any questions, or would like some support, please book a free 15-minute call with one of our experts here.

Find the right service for you

About the author

Kate Daly is a co-founder of amicable and host of The Divorce Podcast. Kate is a divorce expert and helps couples and separated parents navigate divorce and separation amicably. She's passionate about changing the way the world divorces and campaigns for fairer divorce laws and access to justice.


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