Arbitration is an alternative method for parties to reach a definitive end to their dispute without having to go through lengthy court proceedings (saving both time and money). We offer a swift, confidential and bespoke arbitration service – read about it in more detail here.

What is arbitration?

Arbitration is an alternative form of legally resolving family disputes, which we offer in all forms of financial issues. The most important aspect of arbitration is that it guarantees the parties a binding outcome (unlike mediation) that can be reached swiftly (unlike court proceedings).

In an arbitration, the parties jointly appoint an independent arbitrator to determine a dispute. There is flexibility on the process (which can be decided entirely on paper, or include oral evidence). The arbitrator will produce a written reasoned decision (much like a Court judgment). Arbitration is conducted in accordance with the rules of the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators.

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Arbitration is entirely voluntary (in other words, no one can be forced to take part in it), but once the parties have signed up to it, it is guaranteed to deliver an outcome that will bind them both.

Why should I use arbitration?

There are a lot of advantages to using arbitration.  It can be considered as an alternative to court proceedings or mediation, and is sometimes even used after mediation has been tried and failed – as it guarantees an outcome. The advantages include:


Unlike court hearings, all arbitration hearings are guaranteed to be held in private, and therefore not open to the press or the public. This is generally attractive to everyone, but is particularly appropriate for highly confidential or otherwise sensitive situations.

Costs saving.

Normal court proceedings that run all the way through to a final hearing can cost tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) in legal fees. The costs of achieving a similar outcome by arbitration will be a very small fraction of that.

Time saving.

Typically, financial court proceedings will take approximately 12 months from start to the final court hearing; a year is a long time to wait. Resolving the same dispute by arbitration will be far quicker than that: it is not unusual for arbitration to be resolved within 1-2 months within the parties deciding to proceed in that way.

Emotional saving.

There is no denying that family law disputes are extremely draining, however strong the individual. The sooner they are resolved, the sooner all parties can move on with the next chapter of their lives. Swift resolution of the issues in dispute by way of arbitration removes the stress of the ongoing dispute as quickly as possible.


The arbitrator will only make a decision on the issues that it is identified as needing to be resolved. It is possible therefore for the parties to agree some issues and have the remaining issues as the sole focus of the arbitrator’s decision. This can save costs and time.

In addition, arbitration can involve face to face meetings (and representation, either by you directly, or by a solicitor or barrister if you wish) or it can be conducted entirely in writing. It can include cross-examination or exclude oral evidence entirely. The opportunity to tailor the process as much as they wish, means that most parties find arbitration much less stressful than formal court proceedings.

What areas can we use arbitration for?

We offer arbitration for all aspects of the financial issues that can arise, including:

  • Financial claims arising on the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership
  • Financial issues between you and your unmarried partner.
  • Claims for financial support made on behalf of children (often referred to as Schedule 1 claims).
  • A variation of existing spousal maintenance (from an original order or agreement).
  • Payment of school fees and/or provision for tertiary education.
  • Even an argument over who is to have the family pet!

Magnus Mill is a fully qualified financial arbitrator and a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. If you would like to explore the possibility of arbitration for resolving matters in your particular situation, please do contact us.