One of the new kid’s on the block: Arbitrator Nadia Beckett
Family Arbitration can rescue a mediated divorce from crumbling into a nasty expensive court battle, so should more mediators be paying attention to it as a resource for their clients?
Family arbitration could become a powerful new tool in the mediator’s toolbox, as it has done over the pond in the US and Canada. It saves the client money and the arbitrator’s decision is always enforceable by law.
Family Arbitration is the new kid on the block in the family law community in England and Wales, and the potential benefits to divorcing clients are immense.
What is family arbitration for?
“Arbitration is a fantastic tool for resolving issues where there is an agreement on most things but perhaps just one sticking point. However it can also be used where no agreements have been reached.”
“Solicitors and mediators should understand the importance of family law arbitration and should always consider it as an option for their clients. As the courts grind to a standstill through financial cuts, the withdrawal of most legal aid and years of under-funding, it is becoming increasingly difficult for separating couples to resolve their issues quickly and efficiently. Arbitration is flexible. It can be used by litigants who are legally represented and those who are not. It can be a lot less formal than going to court and it can be used to resolve a single financial issue or all financial issues.
There is still a degree of ignorance amongst solicitors, barristers and mediators about Family Arbitration and a mistaken view that Arbitration is just for rich people. That is not the case and ultimately it can actually work out cheaper than going to court as the parties have much more control over the process. Unfortunately family Arbitration cannot be used to resolve disputes over children – but that may change soon.
In other parts of the world, including the United States and Canada, when a mediation process founders, an arbitrator is brought in if the couple wish it, to resolve the disagreement for them. This is also how it can work here – but currently not enough solicitors are informing divorcing couples adequately of this option.
When a Mediation fails to bring agreement on all aspects of the divorce, instead of ending up in court – where the whole process can unravel and begin right back where you started, losing all the agreements already made – with a Divorce Arbitrator that single sticking point can be resolved. And quickly (compared to waiting months for a court date).
Arbitration is not currently possible in the UK if the Collaborative Law process gets stuck – it is only an option for mediation, which can continue on after the particular issue has been decided by the arbitrator.
Even if a financial planner gives clear advice on how a pension could be split or the division of property assets, it may be that the parties would like an adjudication from the Arbitrator who will write their award and make a legally binding decision. The Arbitrator can also deal with discrete elements of a case so if there is a mediation where there is one issue that needs to be resolved, this can be referred to arbitration keeping the rest of the agreement in tact.
Family arbitration can be used at just the right moment to save a mediation from unravelling into a courtroom divorce battle, rescuing the family from all the additional costs and misery of a full scale adversarial divorce.
But will the news about this new tool in the divorce toolbox be able to make the impact that it deserves, since many solicitors and the public remain largely oblivious to it’s benefits?
I am one of a small number of qualified family law arbitrators in England trained by Resolution. As a solicitor with 20 years experience of family law, I have the skills, knowledge and expertise to arbitrate your financial dispute.
Arbitration is a fantastic way of resolving legal disputes out of court. It enables you to resolve all types of financial disputes more quickly, cheaply and in a more flexible and less formal setting than a court room. With the court service becoming increasingly slow and ineffective, arbitration is an alternative you shouldn’t ignore.
Find out more about how Arbitration
can help you to navigate a more intelligent divorce: