Why choose Family Arbitration rather than issue Court Proceedings?

It is less costly

It is private

It is convenient

It is flexible

Over the last 25 years the way to resolve financial family disputes has changed beyond all recognition.  The law hasn't changed - we are still operating under the 1973 Matrimonial Causes Act - but the approach is completely different.   Since April 2014 you cannot issue financial Court proceedings without having first met with a mediator to explore to explore alternatives to the Court process.  The final piece of the jigsaw enabling people to avoid Court is Family Arbitration.

Why would you wish to avoid Court?  Surely this is where a Judge hears competing arguments and justice is delivered?  Without doubt there is a judicial process and a decision is made but there are very few people who having had the experience of Court proceedings would ever voluntarily choose to take that path again.

Arbitration is an alternative judicial process where you choose your Arbitrator and venue; where if you both agree you can choose not to have Court Hearings; where you can tailor the volume of paperwork to the particular issues in dispute rather than follow a fixed procedure; where you can agree timings that are convenient to you both and where you can feel secure in the knowledge that your private affairs will remain private  - these are all reasons to choose arbitration if it has not been possible to reach agreement.  

The Arbitrator applies the same law as the Judge and the arbitration award is as binding on the Parties as any judicial decision.  Family Arbitrators are specially trained highly experienced family lawyers, barristers or retired Judges. All are members of the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators (IFLA) and the arbitration takes place in accordance with IFLA's Rules and Code of Practice.

Your solicitor or adviser can refer your case to an arbitrator and you can be represented at any hearings or alternatively you can represent yourself - the Arbitrator's fee (which is shared between the Parties) can be agreed and is paid in advance and therefore you will feel more in control of costs.   

Sometimes a Mediation or Collaborative Process leads to general agreement on many things but there is one particular stumbling block - rather than issue Court Proceedings that require you to follow a fixed and costly procedure you can ask the Arbitrator to determine that one discreet issue.

The only limitation on using arbitration as an alternative to the Court process is that it is consensual - at the present time you cannot be forced to arbitrate.

For more information about family arbitration please contact Sheridan Ball on 01482 337361 or sheridan.ball@rollits.com

Sheridan is one of only 5 Family Law Arbitrators based in Hull and the East Riding area.  

Posted on: 02/06/2015

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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