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Arbitration – An alternative to litigation

It is a widely misconceived assumption that family law disputes always end up in the court room. Whilst litigation through the courts is one way of achieving a solution, there are also a number of alternative forms of dispute resolution which can provide a more informal and cost-effective alternative to the traditional court process.

Arbitration, like the court process, is a route which results in a binding decision being made. Arbitrations can be used in a family context to resolve financial or property disputes arising from divorce/separation, the breakdown of civil partnerships, co-habitation disputes and some child-related issues arising from family relationships.

A sole arbitrator will be appointed by you and your ex-partner to hear the case and then make an award in writing stating the reasons for the decision.

In entering into arbitration, you and your ex-partner will agree to be bound by the award, though most then go on to obtain a court order to mirror and confirm the terms of the award as this ensures that it can be enforced.

Family arbitration enables couples going through family breakdown to resolve disputes more swiftly, confidentially and in a more flexible and less formal setting than a courtroom.

The same arbitrator will deal with all stages of the case from beginning to end and you and your ex-partner can decide how the proceedings are run. This could include, for example, choosing the venue and whether to meet face to face or through writing only.

The flexibility and the fact that you will get a final decision much more quickly can make arbitration more cost-effective than court.

You can find out more about the benefits of arbitration on the Resolution website and on The Institute of Family Law Arbitrator’s website.

There are some situations where arbitration might not be suitable, for example if you need to get evidence from third parties or there is a risk that your partner might try to hide assets, but arbitration is a genuine alternative to going to court for most family cases.

For more information, please view Arbitration – An Introductory Guide.

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