Arbitration for children disputes

Arbitration is a rapidly expanding method of resolving the issues that arise on relationship breakdown. It is effectively a private court process. An arbitrator is appointed to make any necessary decisions, using the law that applies in England and Wales. Arbitration differs from the traditional court system because the parties have a strong influence over how the proceedings will run. The parties appoint an independent arbitrator who could deal with an entire dispute  or particular elements of a dispute. Arbitration is flexible and can be worked around any specific commitments that you have. Arbitration can happen quickly and the parties decide how, where and when arbitration hearings will take place and are not confined by the restricted availability of judges or court time.

Until recently arbitration has been restricted to financial disputes on divorce or separation but a new scheme has been launched to enable people to arbitrate on issues concerning children. Where disputes arise about the exercise of parental responsibility, the welfare of children, where children should live or how much time they should spend with each parent, they can now be determined by arbitration. This is a welcome move as the flexibility and speed with which arbitration can be commenced is likely to be particularly beneficial in disputes concerning children.

Arbitration is entirely confidential, flexible and faster than the traditional court process which can be cost effective. It also enables parents to resolve matters in a less formal setting than a courtroom. For more information on the new family law arbitration scheme visit:

For anyone experiencing a family breakdown it is important that legal advice is sought from the outset to ensure that you are fully aware of all the options available and the likely costs involved. At Barker Gotelee we can offer a free consultation to anyone who requires some advice and assistance on family issues and would be happy to discuss arbitration as a possible way forward.

Josephine Hayes is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.

Suffolk Family Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email