A relatively new and increasingly popular method of resolving family disputes where parties cannot agree but are reluctant to attend court is family arbitration.
Family arbitration is a process which must be agreed to by both parties and involves a suitably qualified person called an arbitrator to adjudicate on family law issues. Many consider family arbitration as a more attractive alternative to Court as it is confidential and entirely within the parties’ control, can be faster and more cost effective than a court application and the parties themselves can chose which arbitrator should adjudicate on their matter.
There is no fixed procedure and the arbitrators have powers similar to judges including:
- Case management issues e.g., evidence and the extent of disclosure;
- Make interim decision for maintenance;
- Appointing an expert
- Reach final decisions called an ‘award’ which is binding on the parties.