Family arbitration is whereby parties appoint an impartial Arbitrator (usually a senior family law barrister) who will make a binding decision on matters the parties are unable to agree upon.

Arbitration is a means to secure a conclusion to your case however each party needs to agree to use this process. If you are not able to agree to use this, then you will need to consider one of the other alternative ways to resolve matters.

Arbitration can be used for a variety of family issues which include:

  • Financial matters upon separation, dissolution or divorce; and
  • Disagreements in relation to children which include where and whom a child should live with and the time spent with each parent.

It can be accessed as a stand-alone application or could be used as an alternative to pursuing matters through Court proceedings. Even if your Court application is underway, you can pause the proceedings to have the matter concluded in Arbitration.

The award made by the Arbitrator would then be referred back to the Court for sealing. The process is an alternative to Court, not an additional element.


  • Parties have the ability to choose where and when arbitration to take place including which Arbitrator should undertake the process which allows for more flexibility
  • Once appointed the same Arbitrator will deal with the matter throughout which allows for more consistency. Although the Court would attempt to accommodate this during the court process, in practice this rarely happens
  • The process is confidential which is different to Court proceedings that can be made public
  • The arbitration process can be much quicker, and the outcome will be legally binding on both parties.


  • The process is voluntary and one party may not agree
  • There is an additional fee for the Arbitrator which would be shared between the parties. This is not a cost which would be incurred in Court Proceedings.

What to expect

Arbitration is not too dissimilar to the Court process. Parties will agree and appoint an Arbitrator and like a Judge, the Arbitrator will consider the paperwork filed, hear oral evidence from each of the parties and make a decision based upon that.

Privacy is maintained during this confidential process.

This process is carried out in a more informal setting than a Courtroom and tends to be much quicker. The hearings can also take place outside of office hours if that suits you.

Once a final decision has been awarded, an Order will be prepared, sent to the Court for approval and will subsequently take effect.

For anything further, one of our specialists would be delighted to meet you to talk through your options and answer any questions. Please contact us at any time.