Arbitration

Arbitration

When would you consider Arbitration?

If you are considering a divorce, you will also need to begin to consider how you would like to divide any if the marital assets between you and your spouse. in some cases this is possible by way of agreement, however where the breakdown of the marriage was difficult, court proceedings may be required.

Arbitration can also be considered in certain matters concerning children, where agreement cannot be reached between parents.

Arbitration may be a more cost effective resolution than considering litigation as the next step, although it is not without charge.  The advantage of Arbitration is that it can be taken up at any stage of trying to settle the division of marital finances.

What is Family Arbitration?

Family arbitration is a form of private dispute resolution in which you and your ex-partner appoint a fair and impartial family arbitrator to resolve your dispute. Family arbitration is an ideal approach for people who want to resolve a family dispute without the delay and expense of the court process. It allows you and your ex-partner to engage in a flexible process, with complete confidentiality, and the knowledge that a decision will be made. The family arbitrator will produce a decision after hearing from each of you. They will act fairly and impartially, giving each of you the opportunity to put forward your views. Family arbitration applies the law of England and Wales. It is different to other forms of non-court dispute resolution such as mediation and collaborative law in that you are guaranteed a decision which will be made for you.

Family arbitration can be used to help separating couples (whether married or not) following the breakdown of a relationship to settle disputes relating to: u Finance u Property u Child maintenance u Living arrangements for your children after separation u The time your children will spend with their parents u Other arrangements concerning the upbringing of the children (e.g. schooling) u Moving the children with a parent to a different part of England Wales.

How does it work?

Step 1

You and your ex-partner have a family financial or child dispute that you wish to resolve without going to court. You can use family arbitration to resolve the whole dispute, or one part of it.

Step 2

You both, with the help of your lawyers and using the IFLA website ‘Search for an Arbitrator’ function, choose a family arbitrator and establish his or her terms and availability: www.ifla.org.uk

Step 3

Together with your ex-partner you complete, sign and send your completed form (an Application for Family Arbitration Form (ARB1FS) for a financial dispute and ARB1CS (including your information about safety for a dispute concerning a child or children), preferably by email, to info@ifla.org.uk or post. This is where you outline details of the dispute you are seeking to resolve. By signing the ARB1FS or ARB1CS you both agree that you will be bound by the decision of the family arbitrator.

Step 4

The family arbitrator contacts both of you directly to confirm the appointment and then sends you both a formal letter of acceptance.

Step 5

The family arbitration process begins. How the process works is up to you and the family arbitrator. It may be a document-only process, or include face-to face and telephone meetings. If there is a final meeting, this will take place at a date and time agreed between both of you and the family arbitrator.

Step 6

Both of you must pay the family arbitrator’s fee, as well as any other costs involved, such as venue hire for the family arbitration meetings.

Step 7

The family arbitrator makes a decision. The decision is put in writing and delivered to you both. The decision will include written reasons. This is much like a decision made in court.

Step 8

Generally, both of you will take the family arbitrator’s decision to court. By agreement, it will upon request become a court order. It is highly likely that you will need a court order where there has been a financial decision but less so where the decision involves the arrangements for a child or children.

Step 9

You have a right to appeal if you think there has been a legal error or serious irregularity. Your lawyers can advise you on this.

How much does it cost?

Family arbitrator’s fees

You, your ex-partner, and the family arbitrator will agree the level of the family arbitrator’s fees at the start of the process. Fees are usually based on an hourly or daily rate, but may also be arranged on a fixed-fee basis. These costs will normally be shared between you and your ex-partner.

Venue hire

There may be costs involved in hiring a venue for any meetings scheduled as 5 part of the process. These costs will normally be shared.

Independent legal advice fees

It is usually a good idea for both you and your ex-partner to take independent legal advice to help you through the process. Normally you and your ex-partner will each pay your own legal fees.

Experts’ fees

You and your ex-partner might require experts as part of the process. Again, these costs will normally be shared.

Where can you find more information

Visit www.ifla.org.uk to:

  • Learn more about family arbitration and read the FAQs;
  • Find a family arbitrator that meets your requirements;
  • Read the Rules of family arbitration;
  • Download the Applications for Family Arbitration (Form ARB1FS and ARB1CS).

Our help and assistance

At Fisher Wright we can assist you with the process of arbitration from the beginning to the end. We will provide you with legal advice and guidance at any stage of the process, an independent legal advice from one of our experts is always a sensible way forward.