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Family law arbitration

Family law arbitration was launched in February 2012 and offers an alternative way to resolve financial family law disputes outside of court. Divorcing couples, or other parties involved in a family law dispute, can now approach a qualified arbitrator to agree a legally binding financial agreement instead of enduring the lengthy and costly court process.

Stowe Family Law’s senior partner Marilyn Stowe was one of the first to qualify under the new family law arbitration scheme. Launched in England and Wales by the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators, the scheme covers financial and property disputes arising from family relationships including divorce settlements, financial provision for children, property and inheritance issues.

Family law arbitration is a straightforward process for parties wishing to reach a financial settlement outside of court. The first step is for both to agree to undertake arbitration and nominate an arbitrator. Each party will then present a case to the arbitrator, who will adjudicate and, ultimately, make a legally binding decision – known as an award.

Family law arbitration offers a number of benefits to divorcing couples:

  • Speed

In contrast to court procedures, the timetable for arbitration is agreed by the parties – subject to the availability of the arbitrator – therefore nearly all cases are likely to be dealt with significantly faster.

  • Confidentiality

The arbitration process is confidential by its nature. Unlike proceedings in a public court, details of the case can be kept between the two parties and their chosen arbitrator.

  • Costs

In many cases arbitration will result in a cost saving, due to the ability to limit disclosure and the boundaries of the dispute, along with the potentially huge saving in time and any costs relating to litigation.

  • Flexibility

The parties define the scope of the arbitration. For example, some may want all of their differences arbitrated whereas others will only want certain issues to be considered. There may also be flexibility as to the time and place of hearings.

  • Choice of arbitrator

Divorcing spouses never have the right to choose which judge will try their case in court, but they can choose their arbitrator. This ensures that their case is heard by a legal professional with the skills, experience and time to dedicate to their case, as well as meaning an element of uncertainty is removed from proceedings.

If you require further information about the arbitration services, or wish to make an appointment, please contact Morna Rose, Chief Executive of Stowe Family Law, at our Harrogate office.

N.B. Family law arbitration is not covered by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.


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