Arbitration has been available as a means to resolve family law matters since 2012.
Under this process, a suitably qualified person (an arbitrator) is chosen by the parties or appointed by the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators (IFLA) to adjudicate in a dispute and make an appropriate award or determination.
The arbitrator remains independent and impartial throughout proceedings and the parties agree to abide by the decision that they reach (subject to very limited rights of appeal or challenge.) An agreement that the arbitration will be binding is a prerequisite to the process and will form part of the arbitration agreement signed at the start of proceedings.
Arbitration extends to many, although not all, types of family dispute. Financial and property disputes and matters relating to children are among the most common issues that an arbitrator may be asked to deal with following the collapse of a relationship. Certain issues such as bankruptcy, insolvency or recognition of a foreign marriage/divorce are not arbitrable.
In certain types of case, once an agreement is reached, the parties will need to apply to the court for a Consent Order to reflect the award or determination made.
Compared to mediation, arbitration is perhaps closer to traditional court proceedings in the way the process is conducted, although it retains the advantage of being confidential, more flexible and often cheaper. Arbitration also tends to take less time to complete.
If you have any further questions about how these systems work or would like further advice please visit our contact us page.