Family & children arbitration

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At Moore Barlow, we understand that disputes involving children can be emotionally draining and complex. That’s why we offer child and family arbitration as a way to resolve issues outside of court.

Our experienced solicitors provide a confidential and impartial service, helping families to reach a fair and practical solution that prioritises the best interests of the child.

If the relationship between parents or those with parental responsibility breaks down and there need to be decisions made about things like where a child lives, who they spend time with and where they go to school, this can sometimes cause real disagreements that mean the family can’t start to move forward with their lives until there is resolution in these areas.

Using a mediation service can sometimes help families to work out these issues; but, if not, it might be the case that arbitration in family disputes can be the catalyst to resolving the problems.

What is child arbitration?

Child arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third-party is appointed to help resolve disputes between parents regarding child custody and access arrangements. Child arbitration is designed to be a faster, less expensive, and a less adversarial alternative to court proceedings.

Victoria Walker

Victoria Walker

Partner | Family

020 8334 0315

About the child and family arbitration process

A main benefit of using arbitration for family disputes involving children is that this route is designed to obtain a prompt decision, in a cost-effective way, which can make a big difference to everyone involved.

Arbitration is a confidential process (judgements are not reported on) and can be carried out on a timescale and in a location that is suited to the parties involved, rather than being limited to the schedule and venues operated by the Courts. Arbitration gives all parties involved a level of autonomy with regard to the situation, as they are able to choose the arbitrator who will make the final decision. For these reasons, arbitration is seen as a worthwhile option for many families who want to get the child-related dispute settled as quickly and effectively as possible, without the need for a court case.

If the case is considered as suitable for child arbitration, this type of dispute resolution can be used to determine things such as child arrangements (or changing existing arrangements), outline the specifics of contact arrangements, holiday contact, where they go to school, whether they should undergo certain medical treatments and can also now (since being updated in April 2020) determine issues around children going on holidays abroad or permanently moving to specified countries and jurisdictions.

The arbitration itself can be carried out either by way of hearings or by paper determination (i.e. by letter rather than meeting in person) or a combination of the two. This has to be agreed by all parties before the process can begin and with everyone agreeing to abide by the final decision, there are very few grounds to appeal afterwards.

The arbitrator will usually suggest an initial meeting at the start of the process, to discuss the specific issues and scope that the arbitration will be required to cover. Once this has been determined and all parties agree to the terms and conditions of the arbitrator, the process can commence.

If appropriate, the arbitrator can ask the parties involved to instruct an independent social worker to find out the feelings and wishes of the child or children that is the subject of the dispute, to ensure that their voice is part of the arbitration process.

There may be several sessions if experts are required to provide statements or evidence as well as each party presenting their own evidence. Once all of the evidence has been heard, the arbitrator will make their decision on the case.

It’s generally the case that once the arbitration decision has been made, the parties involved will submit an order to the court that gives details of what has been agreed, so that this can be made into an enforceable court order.

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About arbitrators

Arbitrators tend to be highly experienced and specially trained legal professionals, such as family barristers or solicitors. They need to undergo specialist child and family arbitration training in order to be a fully qualified arbitrator in cases related to matters involving children.

The parties should all agree on the selection of the individual arbitrator for their case before the process can commence.

Child and family arbitration costs

A major benefit to arbitration is that it can be very cost effective in comparison to taking the disputes to court. It is necessary to pay the arbitrator, but the comparative speed of the process and the ability to streamline it to meet your specific circumstances means that the issues can often be resolved in a way that minimises the costs.

As every case is different, it isn’t possible to give an accurate cost without knowing more about the scope of the decisions that need to be made and the specific circumstances involved. For example, some cases may include an expert (such as an independent social worker) which will be an additional cost. There may also be individual legal costs for any party, which they pay for themselves, to factor in.

Contact our team for more information and we will be able to provide an estimate of costs once we have properly assessed your case. Call us on 023 8071 8000 to speak to our child and family arbitration team.

Are all family disputes suitable for arbitration?

Not every kind of family dispute involving a child will be suitable for family law arbitration in the UK.

Any case where there are safeguarding issues involved, or where there is domestic abuse, substance misuse or mental illness that impacts the ability of one or more parties to safely care for the child or children, will not be suitable for arbitration. Where one of more party is considered vulnerable, it may also mean that arbitration isn’t suitable. This is because all parties must have the ability to provide informed consent for the arbitration process and to abide by the decision made. If this ability is limited, family arbitration in the UK won’t be deemed a suitable route for resolving the dispute.

If there are any life-changing or life-threatening issues involved with the dispute, or anything related to child abduction by one of the parties, the case will not be suitable for arbitration.

Before child arbitration can commence in England or Wales, all of the involved parties will need to provide information about safeguarding and undergo a police check, as well as a check from the Disclosure and Barring Service (since April 2020) to make sure that the case is suitable for arbitration.

Why choose our child arbitration solicitors?

Our child arbitration solicitors are the best choice for resolving disputes involving children due to their extensive experience and expertise in family law. We provide a confidential and child-focused approach to arbitration, ensuring that the best interests of the child are always prioritised. With their compassionate and practical advice, our solicitors can help families reach a fair and effective resolution that minimises the impact on the children involved.

How can our child arbitration solicitors help?

Let our child arbitration solicitors help resolve disputes between parents regarding child arrangements in a confidential and cost-effective manner. We have extensive experience in family law and can provide impartial advice and guidance to ensure the best outcome for the child. We aim to reduce the stress and emotional impact on the child and provide a quicker resolution compared to court proceedings. We have offices in LondonRichmondSouthamptonGuildfordLymington and Woking.

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Start an online enquiry by completing our short questionnaire.

Contact our family team

Frequently asked questions

What is family arbitration?

Family arbitration is a process in which a neutral third party, known as an arbitrator, is appointed to resolve disputes within a family, such as child custody or financial matters, instead of going to court. The arbitrator’s decision is legally binding and provides a quicker and less formal alternative to traditional court proceedings.

Arbitration is used in family law to resolve disputes outside of the court system. It provides a more private and informal alternative to litigation, allowing parties to have more control over the decision-making process. It can be used to settle issues such as child custody, visitation rights, and property division.

Family arbitration is a process in which a neutral third party, known as an arbitrator, helps resolve disputes within a family. The arbitrator listens to both sides, reviews evidence, and makes a binding decision. This decision is legally enforceable and avoids the need for court intervention.

Yes, arbitration can be a viable alternative to court litigation in family law cases as it allows parties to resolve their disputes in a more private and efficient manner. It can help facilitate a fair resolution, while also reducing the emotional and financial costs associated with traditional court proceedings.

The duration of family arbitration can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the willingness of the parties to reach an agreement. It can range from a few months to several years.

Yes, the decisions made in family and children arbitration are legally binding.

About the Moore Barlow family team

We are experts in family and divorce law, providing sensitive, empathetic and experienced advice upon the breakdown of relationships and child related matters.

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