Family arbitration

Arbitration is an alternative to going through the Courts, which can be a drawn-out process. Through this process, the parties appoint a suitably qualified family law arbitrator. This arbitrator has the judicial powers to make a formal judgement on a dispute and make a binding decision.

The process of arbitration

Agree and appoint

The first step involves both parties signing an agreement to arbitrate and to abide by the rules of the scheme. The parties can either:

  • Nominate a particular arbitrator
  • Ask for an arbitrator to be appointed from a specialist panel by the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators

Parties must agree that the arbitrator’s decision will be final and binding. At this stage, the issues to be arbitrated are summarised.

There is no formalised, fixed process in place. Rather, the approach is agreed and tailored to the needs of the parties involved, with the arbitrator giving directions on the procedural steps.

Each party can be represented by their own lawyer throughout the process, as they would in a Court.

The award or final judgement

At the end of the process, the arbitrator issues an award, along similar lines to a final judgement in Court proceedings. This award is binding.

The rules of the arbitration scheme state that if necessary, the parties will apply to the court for an order in the same terms as the award. It is expected that Courts will make enforceable orders that reflect the arbitrator’s award.

Is arbitration right for you?

If you have not been able to reach an agreement with your spouse and negotiations have stalled, arbitration could help. In fact, it has distinct advantages over the traditional route of Court processes. Read more about the advantages of arbitration.

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