Family Arbitration

Family Arbitration is a system of dispute resolution in which the parties choose an independent Family Arbitrator to decide their family issues or dispute.

Unlike a family mediator or an early neutral evaluator, the Family Arbitrator has the power to make decisions, which bind the parties to virtually the same extent as a High Court Judge in court.

Arbitration is very well established in commercial and construction disputes as an alternative to the court process but has only relatively recently become possible in disputes about property and other financial matters between family members.

Family disputes which are suitable for determination by a Family Arbitrator include:

  • The financial consequences of separation or divorce (or dissolution of a civil partnership).
  • Spousal or children’s maintenance.
  • Disputes about the ownership of a property.
  • Disputes under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and
  • Dependants) Act 1975 following the death of a party to marriage.
  • Financial claims after a foreign divorce.

Advantages of Family Arbitration

Family Arbitration has a number of advantages over the traditional court process:

  • The parties can choose their Arbitrator.
  • The parties can agree the procedure to be used: for example, whether to have a full hearing or whether to have the decision decided on submissions or on the papers only without a hearing.
  • The parties can agree what is to be arbitrated. This may be the whole dispute, or it may just be one distinct issue, which is holding up their negotiations.
  • The arbitration can take place either before or at any stage during court proceedings.
  • It can take place anywhere the parties agree and we are happy to travel to suitable venues as necessary.
  • It is a relatively quick process. Subject to the Arbitrator’s availability, the timetable is in the hands of the parties.
  • It is confidential.

Although arbitration may seem more expensive than the court process because the parties have to pay the Arbitrator - fees will be quoted in advance - the saving of time and the ability to agree procedure will mean that in many cases there is

an overall saving of cost especially (but not only) if many issues are agreed and the arbitration is limited in scope.

Not all disputes are suitable for arbitration because an Arbitrator does not have all the powers of a High Court Judge but many disputes can be dealt with in thos way if the parties agree.

We will advise on suitability on a case-by-case basis.

Please do get in touch if you would like our help.

Family Arbitration

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