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One of the principal advantages that arbitration has over standard court proceedings is the speed at which matters can be resolved.
Instead of waiting for the Family Court’s standard timetable, you and your former spouse can arrange arbitration sessions at your mutual convenience.
Arbitrators are highly experienced and specially qualified family lawyers who act in a similar role to a judge. Parties can choose their own arbitrator.
Parties can even decide which issues to include as part of the arbitration, such as financial settlements and arrangements for children.
This ensures that you stay in control of the process.
How and Why Arbitration Works
All matters discussed in arbitration are completely confidential and in many cases arbitration can work out significantly cheaper than pursuing a financial settlement through the Family Court.
At the end of your arbitration the arbitrator will make a legally-binding arbitration award. Your solicitor will submit the award to the Family Court to make an order, to ensure that it is enforceable in the future.
Only in very exceptional circumstances will the Family Court decline an arbitration decision.
What is arbitration?
Arbitration is a method of out of court dispute resolution. In a similar way to a Judge in the traditional court process, an arbitrator reviews the facts of the case, considers the issues, hears evidence where appropriate and makes a decision that is binding on the parties.
Arbitration can be used to resolve disputes about arrangements for children as well as financial matters.
How does arbitration work?
Arbitration can be tailored to your particular circumstances. It may be that you are not able to resolve one particular issue, you can ask an arbitrator to make a determination on just that issue.
Alternatively, you may ask the arbitrator to determine all of issues in your case. The arbitration process broadly mirrors the court process with disclosure, negotiation and a binding decision being made if agreement cannot be reached along the way.
Why should I choose arbitration?
Arbitration has a number of benefits such as time and cost when compared to the traditional court process. At the moment, matters can take up to 18 months to resolve.
Arbitration can take place in a time-frame to suit you and at a venue which is convenient for everyone. You are not reliant on the court listing system and not subject to delays which are out of your hands. Although arbitration follows a similar process to court proceedings, it is more bespoke and offers a great deal of flexibility.
You are able to maintain control over the process and tailor it to your own needs. If there are any queries or difficulties during the arbitration process, the arbitrator can be contacted and the query dealt with very quickly to allow progress to be made.
Is arbitration more expensive?
Not necessarily. Although you will have to pay an arbitrator, the process can be a more cost-effective way to reach a resolution. In the traditional court process, if the matter proceeds to a final hearing, you would have to provide financial disclosure before the first hearing, update it before the second hearing and, update it again before the final hearing.
This in itself can be a costly exercise. In arbitration, disclosure only has to be provided once. The process is also much shorter from start to finish than the court process, which can mean that the costs are far less.
What other options are there?
There are a number of other ways to resolve matters which do not involve the court for example, mediation and collaborative law.