Guide to Family Arbitration

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There are times when parties have tried to negotiate but their discussions have broken down and the only option seems to be to issue Court proceedings.

Arbitration is a means of resolving family law disputes outside of court proceedings in a private setting and voluntarily entered into, with an Arbitrator appointed to determine the parties' settlement instead of a Judge.

Whilst family law financial matters can be resolved at Arbitration, it is not possible to address issues regarding the care or parenting of children. These issues would need to be dealt with separately.

The Arbitrator

Arbitrators are independent third parties, appointed by the parties. The parties can choose who they would like to appoint depending on the Arbitrator's experience, availability and fee. The level of fee will depend upon the seniority and experience of the Arbitrator as well as the complexity of the matter and time engaged. You will be given a fee estimate for the work, depending on your matter. The Arbitrator's decision is binding on the parties.

Venue

Arbitration does not take place at Court. The venue for the Arbitration can be at a place of your choosing. It is sensible to choose somewhere which is practical, private and suited to such a meeting, such as a conference venue or your solicitor's office.

The Merits

  • Parties have control over who will be their appointed decision maker and the procedure involved;
  • The parties can arrange the Arbitration around their schedules and the availability of the Arbitrator, rather than being reliant on a Court timetable;
  • It is likely that Arbitration will be a quick way of resolving disputes;
  • Arbitration is fully confidential and so high profile parties can take comfort in the fact that their privacy will be respected.

Finalising matters

It is strongly recommended that any award at Arbitration should be recorded as a Consent Order and filed at Court, so that it is fully enforceable. The Arbitrator's award on its own will not be sufficient to dismiss the parties' financial claims.

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