Family Arbitration

Often the biggest concern for couples who cannot reach agreement with their ex-spouse or ex-partner over how to split their assets is a long, expensive drawn out court process. Family arbitration provides an alternate to the court process and offers a cost effective, speedy and flexible solution.

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Family arbitration - the future
Arbitration is one of the most important developments in family law for many years. Launched in February 2012 it offers you and your former spouse or partner an alternate way to resolve family disputes without having to go to court.

Family law arbitration is essentially a private court service where an independent third party – a qualified arbitrator – considers the arguments of you both and makes a decision to resolve disputes.

What is a family arbitrator?
When you appoint an arbitrator, like a judge, he or she reviews all the facts and pieces of evidence, hears both of your views and makes a final decision based on the evidence.
An arbitrator's decision is final and rule binding (in the same way as within the court process). The final decision is referred to as an 'award'.

What can be resolved using arbitration?
Following a marriage or partnership breakdown, arbitration can be used to resolve:

  • Divorce settlements
  • Financial provision for children
  • Finance disputes
  • Property disputes
  • Inheritance disputes 

What are the benefits?

Court is avoided
Arbitration is a lot less formal than dealing with your disputes through the court process.

In most cases arbitration is lot quicker than going to court. In some areas of the country, courts are becoming increasing under resourced and this can result in cases taking months or even years to resolve. Arbitration can be used to resolve the case within a month to six weeks depending on the circumstances.

Cost effective
Arbitration is usually far less costly than proceeding through the courts because the process is quicker and usually less complicated.

The arbitrator you both choose stays with you until the disputes have been resolved. This isn't the case if you proceed with the courts as you often present to several different judges.

You can often choose where and when to meet your arbitrator whereas with the courts you have to fit in to the judges' timetables.

Your disputes are resolved in private and remain confidential. The press is entitled to attend court and report on court cases.

What are the next steps?
If you would like to appoint an arbitrator you should first of all speak to your solicitor for advice. Your former spouse or partner must agree to go through the arbitration process. Once an arbitrator is appointed, you cannot back out unless you both agree to back out.

Did you know…
Gareth Curtis, Family Law Director, is one of only a few family law specialists in Manchester to qualify as a family law arbitrator and be accepted as a member of the Institute of Chartered Arbitrators. He has specialised in family law for 13 years and is qualified to arbitrate in family finance disputes. If you have a question for Gareth please click here »

Please download our arbitration brochure »

Gareth Curtis


I am a Director in the family team, based in Manchester. I represent clients across the UK and internationally, including Australia and the Far East.