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Arbitration in divorce

Arbitration can be used no matter how big or small the disagreement. 

A nominated arbitrator will make binding decisions concerning the matters they do not agree on.

It helps resolve the wide-ranging issues which come up during a divorce settlement and can also determine points such as maintenance variation.

Arbitration is very much like the Court process but has the following advantages:

Choice of arbitrator

What is family arbitration?

You and your partner appoint a family arbitrator, who will make a decision that will be final and binding between the parties. Like a judge in court, a family arbitrator ensures relevant facts and pieces of evidence are collected in order to make a decision based on this evidence.

The arbitrator will also consider your views on what the outcome should be, as well as those of your partner. The arbitrator’s final decision is a binding ruling, known as an “award” in relation to finance and a “determination” for children cases.

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

Resolving disagreements in relation to financial matters

Arbitration can help you come to an agreement on:

  • Property, pensions and maintenance following divorce
  • Financial provision for children
  • Disputes in relation to property following the breakdown of relationships where the couple are not married

Resolving disagreements in relation to children

Arbitration can help in dealing with the following:

  • Where and with whom the children should live
  • The time to be spent with each of their parents
  • Arrangements concerning their upbringing
  • Relocation of children within, but not outside, England and Wales

Arbitration is very much like the Court process but has the following advantages:

  • Speed

    Family Arbitration is a lot quicker in reaching a conclusion (the Award or Determination) than the Court system which is encountering enormous and increasing delays.

  • Flexibility

    You can choose the venue, the dates and times of meetings.  You can choose the Arbitrator and you can also decide what the Arbitrator does need to make a decision about and what he or she does not (for example, if there are only one or two issues that remain to be resolved and everything else has been agreed).

    If the issue which is to be decided is clear then an Arbitrator can even make a decision by seeing all the relevant papers without the parties being present if that is agreed.

  • Versatility

    The location and timing of the hearings are flexible. Interim hearings can take place by telephone, Skype or video link at times convenient to the parties and their lawyers. They are not dictated by the Court process.

  • Confidentiality

    While there are restrictions on what the press can report if hearings take place in Court, the media have no access to arbitration hearings at all.

  • Consistency

    The same Arbitrator will deal with matters from beginning to end. Rarely, if ever, does the same Judge deal with cases in a similar way.

  • Finality

    The Arbitration Award is binding on both parties in the same way as a Court Order. Once an Award has been made the Court will make an Order in the same terms as that Award.

  • Costs

    Although the Arbitrator’s fees will need to be provided for, because the process is so much quicker than the Court system invariably there are substantial overall savings.

Effectively steering our clients through the upset, distress and acceptance of divorce is what we do. We have fully qualified Family Law Arbitrators able to deal with both children and financial issues. We also have Family Lawyers who can guide you through the arbitration process.

Your team in this field

Rebecca Calden-Storr
Determined and proactive, providing clear, strategic and cost-effective advice with compas...
Managing Partner, Birmingham
Gareth Curtis
Recognised by the Legal 500 as being ‘very bright and hardworking’ and ‘...
Managing Partner, Manchester
Angela Sussens
Approachable and understanding, I believe in clear, practical advice to help clients stay ...
Partner, Leeds
Matthew Miles
I have specialised in family law for over a decade in Yorkshire working with a number of h...
Senior Solicitor, Harrogate & Wetherby
Rachel Joyce
I support people with all aspects of family law arising from the breakdown of a relationsh...
Solicitor, Beverley
Harriet Donovan
Harriet joined Stowe Family Law’s Esher office as a Solicitor in November 2020.
Solicitor, Esher
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