Shortlands

Could My Spouse and I Benefit From Divorce Arbitration?

If a couple is considering splitting up and seeking a divorce, they could feel a great deal of uncertainty about how to proceed. One option that is open to people in this position is divorce arbitration. This is one of the processes that exist to try and resolve disputes and help people come to agreements over the future of their marriage or civil partnership as amicably as possible.

What is divorce arbitration, and is it right for me?

Divorce arbitration can be a good method of keeping a divorce out of court and settling things in a less stressful way. When it works well, it can reduce costs, save time and help keep a lid on difficult emotions. The process starts with the appointment of an impartial, third-party arbitrator or negotiator who will facilitate discussion between you and your spouse.

Divorce Arbitration

Both parties attend the arbitration hearing, during which details are shared around children, property, assets and future plans. The arbitrator will sum up, based on what they hear and make appropriate decisions that are legally binding. These decisions will be intended to be as fair and equitable as possible for the benefit of both parties. If any children or dependents are involved, their wellbeing will be placed as a top priority. Once the decisions have been made, neither party can reject or challenge them.

Benefits of divorce arbitration

There are many advantages to going down this route instead of opting for a full-scale divorce hearing in a family court:

1. Cost

Divorce hearing costs can quickly escalate with the appointment of solicitors, barristers, legal experts and more. Divorce arbitration is generally cheaper to arrange and pay for.

divorce timeline - Divorce Arbitration

2. Confidentiality

The findings of a divorce arbitration are not normally made public, meaning that the details can be kept private and out of the media.

3. Convenience

You and your ex-partner can usually pick the date of your arbitration, rather than being at the mercy of the family court calendar. It is usually a much quicker process to complete as well, meaning less time spent in court.

4. Flexibility

As well as being able to choose your date, you can normally have a say in the venue for your arbitration. This can help greatly with transport arrangements, childcare and the need to take time off work. It can also be less daunting to meet somewhere less formal and imposing than a family courtroom.

5 Research

You and your ex-spouse can have a greater choice in arbitrator and/or legal experts. You can do more research into people who might have an experience that is closer to your individual circumstances. If you cannot agree on who to appoint, an arbitrator will be chosen for you.

6. Issues

you can choose to concentrate on just one or a few issues rather than look at the whole divorce at once. For example, childcare and future medical decisions or the division of property and other assets from the union.

However, it can be harder to compel third parties to attend to give evidence if they are unwilling to come to divorce arbitration. Examples could include new partners, business contacts or family members. The arbitration may not be suitable for all cases, including circumstances where one party may believe the other to be dishonest in the information they are providing. There is also no right of appeal once the final decision has been made. If any of these issues could present a problem, talk to your family solicitor to see whether divorce arbitration really is the right path for you to take or if you need to go to court instead.

difference between divorce arbitration and divorce mediation

You may decide to opt for divorce mediation as part of the process of unlinking a marriage or civil partnership. This is a way of sorting out any differences between you and your ex-spouse ahead of or as part of the wider divorce process. It normally precedes a divorce arbitration so that the work done to facilitate agreements and resolve disputes can be used to inform and assist the arbitrator’s decisions.

Unlike an arbitration, decisions made during a divorce mediation are not legally binding. However, you can ask your solicitor afterwards for help in drawing up legal paperwork to make them harder for anyone to go back on. You may be able to qualify for financial assistance to pay for mediation if you are on a low income. Contact your solicitor for more information about divorce arbitration or mediation and their suitability for your case.

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