At Townsend Family Law we aim to resolve matters without the need to attend court. Whilst it is recognised that making an application to court is often necessary. We endeavour to resolve disputes in relation to financial matters and children in a cost effective and non acrimonious way. Negotiations can take place by way of correspondence or alternatively through mediation or arbitration.
Dispute resolution is a generic term utilised to describe a process aimed at resolving disputes without going to court.
Following the implementation of the Family Procedure Rules 2010 there is an increased emphasis on dispute resolution in Family Law matters than there has been previously.
Attending mediation is now compulsory before any application is made to court in relation to finances and children (save for where the application is of an emergency nature or not appropriate for mediation).
A mediator is an independent third party who is not able to advise or indeed make decisions and is simply there to assist the parties to resolve their issues by negotiated agreement without adjudication. Mediation is not designed to be relationship counselling or to help the parties work on their relationship or reconcile, it is designed to help them to reach an amicable solution in relation to areas in dispute such as child or financial matters.
As part of mediation it will be necessary for the mediator to gather as many facts as possible so that an appropriate decision can be made. In a financial case this usually includes full and frank financial disclosure in relation to both parties income, assets, debts and liabilities.
Mediation is a much more cost effective approach if a successful outcome is obtained than attending court. Family mediators are regulated by 6 organisations all of which are members of the Family Mediation Council. Mediators work to a code of conduct which regulates their behaviour.
Once agreement is reached at mediation it is not legally binding. The parties can change their mind with little resource. It is therefore always recommended for an agreement to be drawn up into a consent order to be sealed by the court, thus making it legally binding.
Arbitration involves an independent third party considering the dispute and making a decision. Arbitration has become increasingly common in Family Law in recent months following a family arbitration scheme being launched in March 2012 by the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators.
Arbitration allows for more flexibility than attending Court as parties have some control over the process of their matter and the timescale. Issues dealt with in arbitration remain confidential and in addition the arbitration process can be extremely informal.
Prior to entering into arbitration both parties will sign a form personally to demonstrate that they agree to the rules of arbitration and that they will be bound by the arbitrator’s award at the end of the matter. Although the arbitrator’s award is final it is impossible to oust the jurisdiction of the court and therefore the form which is signed at the outset of arbitration states that the parties will where necessary apply to the court for an order which mirrors the arbitration award. It is not common for a Judge to go against an order made by an arbitrator once the court order is made the decision becomes legally binding.
Arbitration and mediation are both affective dispute resolution techniques which if used appropriately can minimise costs and ensure that an outcome is reached without the need for lengthy and drawn out proceedings.
Townsend Family Law are able to provide services tailored to your budget. Should you require assistance please telephone us on 01992892214.