Going to court can be a daunting prospect for couples seeking separation, but there are a number of out-of-court alternatives for those who wish to settle their issues privately and efficiently – one of which is family arbitration. Traditionally used as a method of dispute resolution for businesses and financial issues, arbitration is now an option for couples and individuals in need of assistance in resolving relationship conflict within a supportive and private environment.
Family arbitration can help you to reach a decision about finances, property, and some child-based issues during separation negotiations without the need to go through a potentially costly and antagonistic court process. It can also be used by unmarried couples and those in civil partnerships. Much like a judge, an arbitrator will look at your case and individual circumstances and come to an objective decision on your behalf. Arbitrators are experienced family lawyers who act independently of both parties while taking into account the perspectives of both parties, working with you at every stage of the case.
One of the main benefits of family arbitration is its flexibility. You are able to appoint the arbitrator of your choice and decide on the course of proceedings, including the timeframe, venue, and whether you’d prefer to meet face to face or sort out everything in writing. In addition, it’s up to you how much of the process you’d like the arbitrator to be involved in – for example you may prefer to use arbitration for every aspects of separation or you may only require help with one or two particular issues, such as dividing up property assets or dealing with savings and debts.
Once your arbitrator has gathered all the relevant facts and evidence, and consulted with both parties, they will provide you with a ruling called an ‘award’ which will detail their final decision regarding your disputes. By entering into arbitration you must agree to accept the arbitrator’s award, and once the process has begun you will not be able to back out without the other party’s agreement.
In general, family arbitration moves much faster than court divorce, and has the added benefit of keeping your affairs confidential. It is best suited to couples don’t feel able to work cooperatively via other out-of-court alternatives such as mediation or collaborative family law, or whose circumstances are complicated and require a third party decision. Arbitration is also much less formal than going to court, and allows couples to feel more in control of the separation process with the reassurance and expertise of an experienced family solicitor.
In 2011, Frances Lindsay became one of the first fully accredited family arbitrators in England and Wales, and is a member of the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators. Frances Lindsay & Co now offer a fixed-fee family arbitration service to couples in the Thames Valley, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire. Contact us at www.franceslindsay.co.uk to find out more and to speak with one of our experienced family law solicitors.arbitration, divorce, family arbitration, family law, solicitor