Family arbitration is another form of Alternate Dispute Resolution, where the couple needs a final decision as they cannot reach agreement, but do not wish to engage in Court proceedings.
By entering into a formal written agreement, couples can agree to appoint a qualified arbitrator who will apply the law of England and Wales to deal either with their dispute in its entirety, or to make a determination on narrower issues, for example the interests of a grandparent, what spousal maintenance should be paid and for how long, which may be blocking the way to an agreed outcome.
Whilst arbitration has a long history in commercial disputes it is a new and innovative way forward in family law and advantages over the more traditional court system.
In particular, the parties can choose their arbitrator, who will then continue to deal with their case throughout (which frequently does not happen in the Courts), they can move the matter ahead as quickly as they want (not being dependent on the lengthy court lists and procedure), the matter is entirely confidential and, whilst the parties do have to pay for the arbitrator’s fees and the cost of a venue if hired, the flexibility to limit disclosure and the ambit of the dispute and the potentially large saving of time, will in many cases lead to a net cost saving.
Parties agree in writing that they will be bound by the terms of the preliminary or final award made and in appropriate cases, agree for the matter to be placed before the Court for conversion into a consent order. (This is not necessary in cases where couples have not been married).
If you are interested in Arbitration, Katie McColgan, Head of our Family Team, qualified as a family law arbitrator in November 2012.
Contact Berry Smith Lawyers and speak to our Family Divorce and Children Solicitors for all your issues at our Bridgend and Cardiff offices.
For further information see www.ifla.org.uk
(Institute of Family Law Arbitrators)