Where separating couples are unable to reach agreement, whether on financial matters or arrangements for children, they are increasingly turning to non-court dispute resolution, whether by way of mediation, negotiation or early neutral evaluation, including private financial dispute resolution (FDR) appointments. Should these be inappropriate or unsuccessful, arbitration has become an attractive option for many families.
Mediation involves discussion facilitated by a neutral mediator with a view to reaching an agreement. The process is confidential and the mediator will be entirely independent from the couple and their respective solicitors (should they have them). Whilst the mediator can facilitate and encourage discussions between separated parents, overall resolution can only be reached by agreement. We work closely with separating couples to ensure that mediation can proceed smoothly. We also offer an in-house mediation service and a "one family, one lawyer" approach in appropriate cases.
Early Neutral Evaluation/Private FDR
A solicitor, barrister or retired Judge can be appointed jointly by a separated couple to provide an indication regarding issues in dispute. The indication provided can assist the parties in negotiating an overall agreement. This process is most commonly used in cases involving disagreements regarding finances, and, even where court proceedings have commenced, can take the place of the financial dispute resolution hearing at court. There are a number of advantages to having a private FDR, including privacy and use of more comfortable facilities than those available at court, the ability to have the appointment sooner than a court hearing may be available and the option to appoint an evaluator who specialises in a relevant area of dispute. Early Neutral Evaluation can also be helpful in cases where there are disagreements regarding arrangements for children and is increasingly being used in this context. We advise and represent couples engaging in early neutral evaluation or a private FDR and a number of our practitioners can act as evaluators.
Where issues remain, an arbitrator can be jointly appointed by a couple to make a decision in respect of their dispute. Parties appreciate the speed, flexibility and confidential nature of arbitration, which can take place at a venue of their choice and avoids the need for contested proceedings through court. The determination is made by an agreed arbitrator with expertise in the particular area in dispute and on a timetable designed to suit the couple.
Our Family Team has extensive experience in arbitration and works closely with colleagues throughout the Firm to provide clients with a bespoke resolution to their dispute.