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National Dispute Resolution Week
25th November 2013 sees the start of National Dispute Resolution week. Dispute Resolution in Family Law cases can involve a number of processes. The three main ones are Family Mediation, Collaborative Law and Family Arbitration. All these options are alternatives to going to Court. Mediation and Collaborative Law enable you and your former partner to talk through your problems together and work out solutions which are right for you and your family with legal and professional support. Family Arbitration is a process in which you place the decision making in the hands of an Arbitrator who is the equivalent of a Judge, but doesn’t involve you having to issue Court proceedings. One of the advantages of using an Arbitrator is that you can ask the Arbitrator to deal with all of the issues arising from your family breakdown or alternatively limit his/her involvement to one or two specific aspects. You will also get a final decision much more quickly and it is more cost effective than going through the Court process.
Most people will now be familiar with Family Mediation. As of April 2013, this is the favoured process of the government to resolve Family Law disputes. Not every case is suitable for mediation, for example, where there has been significant domestic abuse or where there is evidence that suggests that one party is hiding or disposing of family assets. The aim of mediation is for the parties to resolve their differences in a non-confrontational manner in order to reach a mutual agreement. This is especially important in situations where preserving family relations is a priority. It is a genuine and viable alternative to the Court process as it saves both time and money. Mediation is not a mandatory process. The Mediator’s role is to facilitate agreement between the parties and to remain neutral throughout the process.
Collaborative Law is a relatively new process in this country. It involves round the table meetings with the parties and their lawyers. It involves both parties agreeing not to take the matter to Court and if one party subsequently takes the matter to Court, he/she is not allowed to use the same lawyer. Collaborative Law very much applies the same principles as Family Mediation save that each party’s lawyer is there to assist the client with achieving a satisfactory outcome by both lawyers working together to narrow the issues and to work in a collaborative rather than a confrontational manner.
To summarise, the key advantages of Dispute Resolution are as follows: -
- Legal aid is available to all clients, (subject to their financial circumstances), for Family Mediation.
- Mediation and Collaborative Law produce outcomes which are adopted by the parties and not imposed by the Courts.
- Mediation and Collaborative Law are generally much quicker and more cost effective than the Court process.
- Mediation and Collaborative Law involve the clients focusing on the family’s interests and not upon their best and worst positions which tends to happen in the Court process.
- Family Arbitration is a genuine and quicker alternative to achieving a decision regarding finances and/or children than the Court process and can be used to deal with any one issue at any time.
For further information about Mediators, Collaborative Lawyers and Arbitrators in the Nottinghamshire area, please click on one of the links below.