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Divorce law blog

Family Law Arbitration Children Scheme

16/08/2016   By: Sara Hanna

Last week, the Institute of Family Arbitrators (IFLA) launched the Family Law Arbitration Children Scheme, offering individuals the opportunity to resolve disputes in relation to parental responsibility and other private law issues about the welfare of children through arbitration.

Since 2012, it has been possible to use family law arbitration to resolve financial law matters. This alternative to the Court process has become increasingly popular for individuals who are seeking a more flexible way of addressing their disputes on divorce or separation. Arbitration received judicial support from Sir James Munby in the case of S v S [2014] and from Mr Justice Mostyn in the case of DB v DLJ [2016], overcoming concerns that arbitral awards may not be treated in the same way as Court decisions, or that dissatisfied parties may successfully seek to use the Court for a second bite of the cherry.

As with the financial scheme, the Arbitration Children Scheme offers a number of benefits:

1 An arbitration can take place at any time. The speed at which an arbitration can be arranged is a major advantage bearing in mind the harm that can be caused to children as a result of lengthy Court proceedings. The timetable for the hearing will be set by agreement, allowing parties to work around school holidays and other commitments.

2 The parties may appoint an arbitrator of their choosing so to ensure that a specialist with appropriate expertise has is selected. In contrast of Court process, they can also be confident that the arbitrator will have had enough time to pre-read adequately and will have a clear grasp of the each of their positions.

3 Arbitrations are dealt with in private guaranteeing confidentiality.

4 An arbitration can take place anywhere. A convenient venue can be chosen and will likely be in an environment that is less formal or intimidating than the courtroom.

5 Generally, arbitration is significantly cheaper than contested Court proceedings in light of the ability to tailor the process. Since arbitrations can be limited to discrete issues, many hearings often take place over the course of one day only.

At a time where the English Courts are on their knees the widened scope of the Arbitration Scheme must be welcomed.

More information about Arbitration can be found here or feel free to contact one of our specialist Arbitrators to see how Arbitration could work for you.

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