Arbitration has been used in commercial disputes for many years, but family arbitration is now a recognised form of dispute resolution for separating couples as well.
What is it?
Historically, when a separating couple have been unable to resolve matters through solicitor led negotiations, collaborative law or mediation, the only option would be to issue court proceedings. They would then find themselves at the mercy of the court timetable, which can lead to lengthy delays and a significant increase in costs.
Arbitration offers an alternate which avoids the stress and inflexibility of court proceedings. Instead of going to court, the couple jointly appoint an arbitrator, often a senior barrister or retired judge, to hear their evidence and to adjudicate on their matter. Both parties enter into an agreement at the outset to be bound by the decision and once it has been made, this can then be formalised and incorporated into a Court Order to be sealed.
What are the benefits?
Family arbitration offers several benefits. Firstly, the couple will benefit from a more flexible approach; they can choose how their matter is dealt with, the proceedings are held in private (usually in Barrister’s chambers), and they can be dealt with in a timeframe which suits the couple. Generally, arbitration is much quicker than going to court.
Furthermore, the couple choose the ‘Judge’ who will adjudicate on their matter; a luxury you do not get if your matter goes to Court. This means that the couple can be satisfied that the person appointed to adjudicate on their matter is an expert in their field. They will also benefit from the consistency of having one ‘Judge’ appointed to deal with their matter through to conclusion.
Is it for me?
There is a cost involved in appointing an arbitrator. However, if you are engaged in a family dispute and you are looking to achieve finality, in an environment that can be tailored to your requirements and is likely save you costs and time in the long run, then arbitration is for you.
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