How to avoid ‘dishing the dirt’ in the divorce courts

31 January 2020 | Written by Jones Myers

Nicki Mitchell, Jones Myers partner

In the latest high-profile divorce to hit the headlines presenter Fern Britton and TV chef Phil Vickery are to separate after 20 years – with both pledging to continue ‘to share their great friendship and lovely children’. But how realistic can this be? 

Our team of specialist family lawyers at Jones Myers can say from experience that it is possible to have a dignified and constructive divorce.  Separation doesn’t have to be all about trying to “win” and take each other “to the cleaners”.  There is no easy way to separate but, with the right support, couples can save themselves and their children a lot stress, heartache and financial cost.

Fern and Phil, and anyone else in their situation, should consider the options below – all of which can avoid costly, public and stressful litigation under the glare of the media spotlight.   


The collaborative process puts you both in control, enabling you to work together with your respective lawyers to achieve the right agreement.  
You each instruct a collaboratively trained lawyer and agree in writing to work together to resolve issues surrounding your separation.
A series of four-way meetings with you and your lawyers progresses at the pace you jointly set, discussing the needs and interests of everyone directly involved.   

Addressing issues with dignity and in a safe and secure environment, it enables you and your ex to remain on good terms and communicate regularly.

Our specialist collaboratively trained lawyers include myself, based at the firm’s York office and collaborative family law specialist Norman Taylor in Leeds.


The private and confidential process involves an independent third party, a mediator, who helps you and your ex to reach an agreement.

The mediator manages a series of discussions – assisting and guiding you both to explore and discuss what matters most to you and helping to move dialogue forward.

You can both retain your own solicitor who you can consult outside of the meetings. A successful outcome results in an agreement which is formalised into a binding court order without you having to go to court.

Nicki Mitchell is an experienced and accredited mediator who works from our York, Leeds and Harrogate offices.  If you prefer to instruct us as your lawyer, Jones Myers can refer you to a mediator and can offer you support and legal advice to help you prepare for, and achieve, the desired outcome.  


Arbitration is a private court designed to resolve financial issues and preserve your privacy in contrast to going to court when your future is determined by a judge, who is unknown to you.

You and your ex appoint an Arbitrator, an independent and impartial third party. After listening to all the evidence and representations made on your behalf, the Arbitrator will then make an award – which is similar to the court order but more comprehensive – and which is final. 

The “hearing”, at a venue agreed between you, entails the Arbitrator listening to relevant facts and evidence. After considering your individual views, they make a binding ruling, known as an award. 

Jones Myers founder, Peter Jones, a former Deputy District Judge, is qualified to arbitrate on cases including financial and property disputes, the break-up of civil partnerships or disputes between cohabitating couples whose relationships have ended.

For any aspect of divorce or family law, call Jones Myers at Leeds on 0113 246 0055, Harrogate on 01423 276104, or York on 01904 202550 or visit, email or tweet us @helpwithdivorce

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