Family Arbitration

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If you have a question about our services please don’t hesitate to get in touch for further information via our enquiry form or by contacting us

What is arbitration in Children Law?

When you have a dispute with someone (such as an ex-partner, parent) about your children and you aren’t able to resolve it through discussion, it can help to ask a qualified independent person (an arbitrator) to make a decision for you.

Arbitration does just that – it’s like a personal court available at your convenience. 

The arbitrator listens to the evidence, hears from each side and makes an independent decision about what is best for your children. That decision is intended to be binding and can easily be made into a court order to ensure it happens. 

Why Arbitration instead of taking them to court? Arbitration is quicker, less formal, less stressful, can work flexibly to suit your schedule and will probably save you a great deal of money compared to going to court.

An arbitrator is similar to a judge, though the procedures can be less formal, conducted remotely and the arbitrator will be an expert in family law.

Our Arbitrators are specialist family law barristers and members of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. They are accredited and regulated by the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators.

At Barrister For Me our fees are transparent and fixed, compared with going to court, and your case will be heard more quickly and often with fewer hearings. What sets us apart is that we are friendly, approachable and experts in our field. In addition, we can work flexibly with your schedule outside of traditional working hours to ensure your dispute is resolved quickly.

What is the Arbitration process?

  1. Get in touch via our online contact form to determine whether we can help you resolve your dispute or if you should go to a solicitor. If suitable, our clerks will  talk you through the process ,send you a guide on what to expect and give you an outline of the cost. 
  2. Meet your Arbitrator. Once we’ve taken on your case, the clerks match you with an arbitrator best suited to your unique situation. This will be a barrister specialising in family law and specially trained in family law arbitration. This means they’ll have experience with children and managing stressful, often emotionally charged, disputes.
  3. Each person involved in the arbitration will then need to complete a form ARB1CS for children matters, supply a criminal records check and send these to the Arbitrator. The forms and details about how to get a criminal records check are available from our clerks.
  4. The Arbitrator will consider what evidence is required and tell each person involved what to do.
  5. A date will then be set which is convenient to everyone for the Arbitration.

There is helpful information on the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators,  including a Guide for the Public, if you want to find out more about arbitration..

What sorts of disputes can be resolved?

Arbitration can decide decisions such as where the child should live, how much time should be spent with each parent and other family members (including grandparents), schooling, holidays and the problems that arise when one parent wants to move with the children to another part of the country or abroad. 

It does not apply to decisions involving the safety of the child (i.e. issues which could involve a local authority).

Advantages of arbitration over going to the family court

  • Your case will be heard more quickly and require fewer hearings, saving you both time and money
  • Your case will be heard in weeks rather than waiting for months in the Family Court
  • You choose where and when the case is heard, and you can be confident it won’t be adjourned
  • You have a fixed fee with no hidden extras‍
  • The process can be tailored to suit parties’ particular needs – You choose which issues you would like the Arbitrator to decide
  • You choose your Arbitrator who will be an accredited and regulated specialist
  • Your hearing will be more relaxed and will be in private
  • The same law is applied as in the Court
  • The process is confidential, subject only to concerns about safety of the children
  • You can represent yourself or have a lawyer or possibly a friend at the hearing
  • You don’t have to attend a Mediation and Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM)
  • You can ask for an expert such as a psychologist just like the Family Court
  • Your case could be dealt on documents alone if the issue is simple and the other side agrees
  • The decision of the arbitrator is intended to be binding and you can make a simple application for a Family Court Order after the arbitration
  • There are limited grounds of appeal
  • Arbitral awards are legally binding and enforceable through the courts

News and further useful information:

Family Arbitration FAQs

When you have a dispute with someone about your children and you have been unable to resolve it through discussion, it can help to ask a qualified independent person to make a decision for you instead of waiting to go to Court. This Arbitrator hearsthe evidence and the arguments on each side then make an independent decision (Determination) about what is best for your children. That decision is intended to be binding and can easily be made into an enforceable court order. Family arbitration uniquely focuses on the best interests for children involved and often requires specialist training to deal with the sensitive issues to be resolved.

Everyone: children, parents, grandparents, siblings, family members, guardians etc. Many of our specially trained barristers are also qualified Arbitrators.

Whilst going to the Family Court is an option, arbitration offers the same benefits in that you or your legal representative can set out your case and ask questions of the other side, and a decision will be sent to you in the form of a high quality written judgment. The difference in coming to us is that it is much quicker and a lot less expensive than going to court.

It’s like a personal court available at your convenience:

  • Your case will be heard more quickly than going to court
  • You will likely require fewer hearings, saving time and money and can be confident these won’t be adjourned
  • These can be conducted more flexibly to suit your schedule and be done remotely and in person in a more relaxed setting than a courtroom
  • Fixed fee with no hidden extra costs
  • Limited ability to appeal a decision
  • Arbitral awards are legally binding and enforceable through the courts
  • You choose which issues you would like the Arbitrator to decide

Arbitration does not apply to issues involving the safety of the child (ie issues with which the local authority could become involved) or issues involving foreign countries (ie moving the child abroad or taking them on holiday abroad).

Direct Access, also known as Public Access, allows you to directly instruct a barrister to act on your behalf, without using a solicitor or intermediary as is traditional. You are managing your case. However, not all cases are suitable for direct access and only barristers specifically trained to accept direct access instruction can assist you. Meet our trained barristers here.

We use a 4 step process outlining how you can instruct a barrister directly: Enquire, Discuss, Confirm, Instruct. Each stage is designed so we can make sure your case is suitable for direct access. It enables our clerks to find the right barrister, at the right price, for the right time just for you. Read more about the process here.

  • Represent you at court, before a tribunal, at a mediation and/or arbitration
  • Advise you on the potential outcomes of your case
  • Advise on drafting correspondence, formal Court documents and expert/witness statements
  • Advise you on involving experts
  • Advise you on the next steps in the proceedings. 

  • Liaise directly with the courts and other parties
  • Collect evidence and relevant papers
  • Handle money on your behalf

It is your responsibility to provide clear, concise instructions for your barrister to work towards your desired outcome. They cannot manage your case or your affairs nor can they handle money on your behalf.

Each case is different and some cases are not suitable for direct access instruction. For this area Clients using legal aid are not suitable for Direct Access so should instruct us using a solicitor. 

If your case is not suitable

Some cases require more day to day management so are not suitable for direct access. In this case, we will not progress beyond the Enquiry stage of our process but you can instruct us using a solicitor.

Fees can be a fixed amount for agreed upon work or an hourly rate with a set limit. Your case is unique but our experienced clerks can provide an accurate fee once you have submitted your enquiry form. Generally speaking, fees can vary depend on how senior a barrister is and how many hours work are needed but you’ll be aware of exactly what you are spending. Read more about our fees here.

Family Arbitration team

An easy process

Upon receiving this enquiry form a Public Access Clerk will contact you to discuss your case in further detail. Please see our 4 steps outlining the process of instructing a Direct Access Barrister.

1. Submit an enquiry
Fill out our form, designed to collect as much information as possible about your case.

2. Speak to a clerk
After carefully reviewing your form, a specially trained Clerk will get in touch to confirm if your case is suitable for one of our Direct Access Barristers.

3. Receive a client care pack
Once our Direct Access Barrister has agreed in principle to represent you, you will be sent a ‘client care letter’.

4. Instructing a Barrister
If you want to go ahead after agreeing to your client care letter, it’s time to instruct your Direct Access Barrister. Download a PDF of this process here.

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