Family Law Arbitration – why it will work for you

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If you are involved in a dispute which relates to financial issues arising from a relationship and you need that issue resolving is court your only choice?

The family courts are buckling under the strain of successive rounds of funding cuts. Court lists are packed with those unable to afford legal representation but who need access to justice. Cases are taking longer to be heard with the knock on impact of delays in when cases are being listed. As well as court staff, Judges are often struggling to deal with the paperwork that needs to be processed.

So is the court the right choice? Is it the only choice?

I’d argue the answer can lie in using Family Law Arbitration under the www.ifla.org.uk scheme.

Arbitration is, put simply, the use of an arbitrator to settle a dispute. Family law arbitration, which resolves disputes by applying the laws of England and Wales, can deal the following issues:

  • financial disputes arising from divorce;
  • claims on inheritance from a child, spouse etc;
  • financial claims made in England and Wales after a divorce abroad;
  • claims for child maintenance between unmarried parents;
  • disputes about ownership of a property between cohabiting couples and civil partnership financial claims.

Here are some examples of how family law arbitration will work for you and your family:-

  1. Do you want a swift resolution for your dispute? Check. Forget putting your life on hold for 9 months plus waiting for the court listed date to come around.
  2. Do you want privacy? Of course you do. Do you really want people to see you going into a court? What if you meet someone you know in there – they are very public places. Family law arbitration is wholly private.
  3. Do you have a busy diary and want to fix the decision making around a date convenient to you and not a court? Sorted. Flexibility is one of the hallmarks of family law arbitration.
  4. Do you have a limited budget and need to control your spend on the legal process? You can tick that box.
  5. Do you want to make sure the person making the decision has the time to understand the issues in detail? To have actually read all the papers beforehand and focus solely on your case and not a court list? No problem.
  6. Do you want to be sure the person making the decision is suitable in terms of experience and expertise? That’s covered. Many arbitrators tend to be retired or part-time judges.
  7. Do you want the decision to be legally binding so you finally have resolution? You’ve got it. You will get a decision from the arbitrator and you will both be bound by it. The argument is over.

Let’s summarise why Arbitration will work.

  • clients exercise more control over timing, the issues, the decision maker and the venue. Okay you pay for your tribunal ie the decision maker – the Arbitrator – but the focus allows for a streamlined process and that will save you overall costs and time.
  • It will be private. It will be convenient to your diary.
  • You will keep control rather than being shoe-horned into a court list.
  • You end up with a decision: the award. It’s legally binding. Isn’t that what the court gives you, but with greater delay, cost, inconvenience and inflexibility?

So, for me, if you need a family law decision of a financial nature sorted quickly and with the minimum of fuss and expense, family law arbitration should be your starting point, rather than the court.

Robert Williams is a Director of Family Law Partners and is a Collaborative Lawyer, Solicitor, Deputy District Judge and Family Law Arbitrator. He can be contacted on 01273 646903 or at [email protected]

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