Children Arbitration Scheme - A new option for resolving children matters without going to courtJune 26, 2017
Resolving disputes about children can be incredibly difficult and emotional. Where parents are not able to reach an agreement between themselves, through solicitors or through mediation, their only option until recently has been to go to court.
With increased numbers of court applications but fewer people being legally represented, many parents’ experience of the court system is one of frustration and delay. It will therefore come as good news that parents can now use arbitration to resolve children matters.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is where parties appoint a third party to decide issue/s which they can’t agree on.
Parties can represent themselves or instruct a solicitor/barrister and they liaise with the arbitrator to decide the issues that need resolving and the evidence required. A date is then fixed for the arbitration when evidence and arguments are heard exactly as they would be in court. The arbitrator’s decision is legally binding.
What are the Advantages of Arbitration?
- Parents can choose the arbitrator (a legal professional with significant experience of children matters) who will handle the case throughout.
- The parents and the arbitrator set a date and time for the arbitration which could be evenings or weekends.
- The parents choose the venue (not an intimidating court room).
- There should be no adjournments as you will not be competing with other cases for the arbitrator’s time.
- It is much quicker, and generally therefore cheaper, than court - one of the first cases to go to arbitration took just 10 days between referral and final decision.
- It is completely private and confidential.
What are the disadvantages of Arbitration?
- The decision needs to be made into a court order although this is essentially an administrative matter.
- Despite being in all likelihood cheaper than going to court, you will still have to meet the costs of the arbitrator, venue, legal representatives and experts.
- Arbitration cannot be used for cases with an international element e.g. applications to remove a child from the UK.
Despite these disadvantages, arbitration is a very important addition to the dispute resolution toolkit for children matters and provides a much needed alternative to court.