Family Arbitration – is it for me?

Are all cases suitable for family arbitration?

Family arbitration is a good alternative to court proceedings provided that there are certain complicating factors. For example, where there is suspicion that your ex-spouse is withdrawing, concealing or transferring assets which should be part of the financial settlement, family arbitration will not be appropriate and a family court will be required to get to the bottom of the issue. Equally, if testimony from third parties is necessary, court action will be the way forward.

The couples who will benefit from family arbitration are those whose split is not so acrimonious that they cannot discuss negotiate their financial or property issues outside court. If this is possible it is no doubt preferable because court proceedings can be drawn-out affairs leading to high legal expenses. By using family arbitration, couples can save time, money and maintain more control over their divorce or civil partnership dissolution.

What are the main benefits of family arbitration?

It is generally held that family arbitration can be more cost effective, take less time, and be less acrimonious than going to the family courts.

It can take an extremely long time to get a court hearing, sometimes up to a year, whereas you could begin arbitration within weeks. You can pick and choose which issues you discuss, the arbitrator and the timetable for negotiations which also means that you will not need to stick to a court timetable (which can be spread over a long period of time).

Going through the courts can be very expensive. Under family arbitration, the costs are shared equally (unless the arbitrator rules that one party should pay more) and parties pay the legal fees of their own family law solicitor separately.

The courts can also make negotiations more heated, whereas arbitration encourages discussion. Ultimately, the outcome of these discussions will be a legally binding judgement, just like one that a judge would make.

We believe family arbitration is another exciting form of alternative resolution for family law disputes, and that’s why we have one of our own divorce solicitors booked in to train and qualify as an accredited family arbitrator in early 2013.