How to avoid the Family Court Queue Part 1 : Family Law Arbitration

Even without Covid-19, the queue for Final Hearings in family cases has just been getting longer and longer.

There is an answer – stop guessing what a Judge at Court might decide and let a ‘private judge’ actually decide your case instead.

Under the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators (Court Approved) scheme a jointly appointed Arbitrator can determine financial or children cases in a way that becomes a binding decision (almost always) enforceable in the Courts.

Arbitrators are highly experienced lawyers who are specially trained and qualified by the IFLA and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

The Parties just need to agree on 3 simple things first –

1. Do they want to save time and money by going to Binding Arbitration ? (to which any rational answer should be yes)

2. Who the Arbitrator is ? (all profiled on the IFLA website

3. What they want the Arbitrator to decide (the whole case or just some of it)

There are also costs considerations to take into account, including possible costs consequences if a party unreasonably refuses an offer of arbitration.

The Financial Scheme covers all applications under –

• Matrimonial Causes Act 1973
• Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
• Sch. 1 Children Act 1989
• Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996
• Civil Partnership Act 2004
• Married Women’s Property Act 1882

The Children Scheme covers –

• Any issue between parents or other persons holding parental responsibility or a sufficient interest in a child’s present or future welfare
• Where a child should live including shared living arrangements
• Visiting arrangements including holiday time to be spent with a non residential parent
• Education
• Disputes concerning routine and non life threatening medical treatment

The IFLA website contains an incredibly helpful Guide to Arbitration together with the Forms the parties will both need to sign to start the process.

Richard Balchin is a Barrister & IFLA Arbitrator at Trinity Chambers