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Insights // 04 May 2021

Change to Collaborative Divorce Practice – Arbitration Can Be Added On

Partner Tasha Bevan-Stewart, in our leading Family Law team, explains how arbitration can be an option for divorcing couples who choose the collaborative process but fail to reach a settlement. 

Couples wanting to divorce amicably often choose the collaborative process to sort out their financial and child arrangements following separation.

The collaborative method involves talking through the arrangements round-table with both your solicitors present, in order to reach a mutually agreed settlement. It is much more civilised and far less stressful than going to court to thrash things out. Specially trained collaborative lawyers adopt a constructive, team-based working approach to help both partners through this difficult time. Independent financial advisers and specialist family counsellors are often brought into the process to assist.

With the rise of non-court dispute resolution techniques, more family lawyers than ever are offering the collaborative method of settlement. It’s popular because both clients and lawyers alike can see the benefits of building communication for the separated family moving forward.  

The collaborative process is underpinned by a document called the ‘participation agreement.’ When lawyers and clients sign up to this, it commits them to avoiding court proceedings and sets out the principles by which they will work – transparency, respect for each other and constructive decision-making.

An important change to the participation agreement has been made by Resolution, the family lawyers’ organisation, which means that arbitration can now be offered as a bolt-on to this process. So if your discussions in collaborative round-table meetings do not produce a settlement (and most do), you can move into an arbitral setting. This means you can have your dispute decided without resorting to court proceedings.

An arbitrator is a private adjudicator who will resolve your family law dispute, much like a judge, but in a far more efficient and user-friendly way. Arbitrations are arranged at the parties’ convenience, and are a much quicker way to decide a dispute than waiting months for a court hearing. An arbitral award is binding on the parties and can quickly be converted into a court order to achieve finality.

If you are contemplating a divorce, and think the collaborative approach could work for you, please contact our trained collaborative lawyers, Claire Dyer and Tasha Bevan-Stewart to find out more. Tasha is also co-chair of Resolution’s Collaborative Working Party group.

You may also find our blog articles, ‘Settling a Divorce Without Going to Court - What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?’, and ‘What is Collaborative Law? The Benefits Explained’ of interest.

For further information or legal advice, please contact law@blandy.co.uk or call 0118 951 6800.

This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.

Tasha Bevan-Stewart

Tasha Bevan-Stewart

Partner, Family Law

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