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“We have been unable to agree matters at mediation, we now have no choice but to go to court.”
True or False?


You still have options. This article considers one of those – Family Arbitration and answers some frequently asked questions.

What is family arbitration?

Family arbitration is a form of private dispute resolution.

You and your ex-partner appoint a fair and impartial family arbitrator to resolve your dispute.

Family arbitration is an ideal approach for people who want to resolve a family dispute without the delay and expense of the court process.

It allows you and your ex-partner to engage in a flexible process, with complete confidentiality, and the knowledge that a decision will be made.

They will give each of you the opportunity to put forward your views. The family arbitrator will then produce a decision after hearing from each of you.

Family arbitration applies the law of England and Wales. It is different to other forms of non-court dispute resolution, such as mediation and collaborative law, in that you are guaranteed a decision will be made for you.

Family arbitration can be used to help separating couples (whether married or not) following the breakdown of a relationship to settle disputes relating to:

  • Finance
  • Property
  • Child maintenance
  • Living arrangements for your children after separation
  • The time your children will spend with their parents
  • Other arrangements concerning the upbringing of the children (e.g. schooling)
  • Moving the children with a parent to a different part of England Wales.
Family arbitration is an ideal approach for people who want to resolve a family dispute without the delay and expense of the court process.

Why choose family arbitration?

The court process can be long, complicated and expensive. It can increase conflict and confrontation during an already distressing and stressful time. Family arbitration provides a real alternative.


Family arbitration is likely to be a lot quicker than going to court and the same person will deal with the dispute from start to finish.


You can choose the venue and arrange meetings for dates and times that suit you.

You can choose your family arbitrator. This means that if you have specific requirements, you can find a family arbitrator with the specialist knowledge that will help resolve your unique dispute.


You can decide whether the process is document only, conducted via telephone, or by face-to-face meetings. Issues may be dealt with all at once, or one after the other. You can decide whether you want the family arbitrator to look at the whole of a dispute or just one part of it.


Family arbitration is a private process. The media are not entitled to attend hearings. The venue will be one that you and your ex-partner agree. Only both of you, your representatives, the arbitrator, and any others agreed (such as experts) will be permitted to be there.

Legal advice

You can retain your own lawyer to advise you throughout the process.


Your arbitrator will want to know that you and children will be safe from harm when deciding any arrangements for your children. You will be asked to provide some background information and information on any concerns you have and in some circumstances your arbitrator may be under a duty to contact external agencies. Should they arise, you should also discuss these concerns with your lawyer.


At the end of the arbitration you will receive a decision which resolves your dispute. The arbitration will be respected by the Court and it will be made an Order of the Court upon request.


Whilst the family arbitrator will charge a fee, the process is very likely to be less costly than the court process.

How much does it cost?

The Family arbitrator’s fees

You, your ex-partner, and the family arbitrator will agree the level of the family arbitrator’s fees at the start of the process. Fees are usually based on an hourly or daily rate but may also be arranged on a fixed-fee basis. These costs will normally be shared between you and your ex-partner.

Venue hire

There may be additional costs involved in hiring a venue for any meetings scheduled and if experts are required to give professional advice/opinion then their costs will be agreed in advance and are also usually shared between you. Usually you will each be responsible for the costs of your own legal representation.

So if you are separating or having difficulties over the arrangements for your children or need to sort out a dispute on a property, then why not give us a call? Sybilla Agasee is our family mediator and you can reach her on 01268 745406 or

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