Can I Resolve My Family Finances Without Going To Court?
With the right preparation and advice, it is often possible to resolve a dispute about finances on divorce without going to court. Alternatively, there are routes which involve less court input. These are some of the main options:
- Mediation, in which the parties discuss the issues with the assistance of a trained professional. However, the issues will only be resolved if the parties can agree
- You agree through correspondence how the assets will be divided. A lawyer will be able to help with this by advising on a fair outcome and negotiating with your ex-spouse. Again, the issues will only be resolved if the parties can agree
- Private Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR)
A specialist solicitor will be well placed to advise on the process which best suits your case.
What is a private FDR?
An FDR is usually a court hearing at which the court gives an ‘indication’ of the final order which the parties could expect in their case. This is designed to encourage agreeing a realistic outcome. However, pressures on the court system, including delays, can encourage parties to share the cost of a private FDR. This is likely to resolve the matter more efficiently and give the parties more control over the process. As with a court-based FDR, the parties will state their case, receive an indication, and then try to negotiate an agreement.
If you choose to have a private FDR, you will share the cost of a specialist lawyer to act as a judge. You can select the “Judge” depending on the complexity of the case and the fee the parties can afford. Solicitors, barristers and retired judges can act as private FDR judges. A private FDR takes the place of the court-based FDR. Benefits also include greater choice over the day, time and format. However, if there is not agreement at private FDR, the case will still need to go to a court-based final hearing.
What is arbitration?
Another route which avoids at least part of the court process is arbitration. Again, the parties would share the cost of a private Judge. Arbitration, unlike mediation or an FDR, offers the certainty of a final decision outside the court process. The process in some ways reflects the court procedure but there are differences. The parties have more choice with arbitration:
- Arbitration cannot take place unless both parties consent to it and agree to be bound by the decision made
- The parties can choose an arbitrator (who will make the decision or ‘award’)
- The parties can choose the issues which need to be determined and how they should be determined
The press cannot attend to report on arbitration, therefore it is a popular option for those who want to retain their privacy. The decision, known as an arbitral award, is binding on the parties. However, you may need to apply to court for the decision to be enforceable.
Here to Help
If you need advice on any family matter, please get in touch with Kerrie Hall, Senior Solicitor specialising in Family Law.
Please note the contents of this article are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.