The launch of the Family Law Arbitration Children Scheme offers an alternative way forward for those who are separating/divorcing and want to resolve issues relating to children.
Arbitration is fairly new in family law, having first been introduced in 2010 for financial cases. Arbitration is not family mediation. So what does it involve?
- Family Arbitration is similar to the Court process. It doesn’t take place in a Court building, but for example the offices of the arbitrator appointed, solicitors’ offices or barristers’ chambers or another venue agreed.
- A decision by an arbitrator is not a Court Order, but it is difficult to persuade a Judge to make a different Order to the terms of a decision by an arbitrator. The President of the Family Division has said that this will only happen “in the rarest of cases”.
- Both parties sign an agreement to arbitrate and appoint an arbitrator.
- Each party can be represented by lawyers throughout the process.
- Arbitration isn’t free. You pay for the time of the arbitrator. The fees are often similar to those that a barrister or solicitor will charge to represent you at a negotiation type hearing or final hearing i.e. starting from around the £2,000 mark, depending on seniority and expertise. Arbitration is a fairly new concept in family law and fees are currently competitive.
So why arbitrate if there is a Court system?
You don’t have the initial cost of a Mediation and Information Assessment Meeting (usually about £100).
- You don’t have any Court fees to pay.
- You don’t have any of the delays of the Court system waiting for time slots for hearings. You don’t have to pay for your solicitor or barrister hanging around at Court.
- You have a specialist arbitrator who is someone you are both satisfied has a high level of expertise to make a decision in your case. A Judge may be someone who has practised an entirely different field of law.
- You don’t have any of the administrative problems caused by for example the Court not having a Judge or enough magistrates to hear your case on a particular day or missing Court bundles etc. You don’t have to pay for your solicitor or barrister’s time for representing you at hearings which don’t go ahead on the day.
- You can agree to arbitration just on specific aspects of a case. The Court process is inflexible. Court hearings have a set purpose and are for a specific length of time.
- Meetings can take place at short notice at an agreed venue and time of day convenient to all. You don’t have to take time off work, cancel holidays etc.
Emsleys’ family law team can support and represent you through the arbitration process. For further information and an initial free of charge discussion, please contact a member of the family team on 0113 201 4900