family disputes

What Is A “Children Scheme” In Family Disputes?

Linkilaw Family Law

What Is A “Children Scheme” In Family Disputes?

Family disputes are perhaps the most painful and delicate of all, which is why most people want to take the quickest and simplest road to their legal resolution. To that effect, this July IFLA (The Institute of Family Law Arbitrators) has launched the so-called “Children Scheme” developed by a team of leading family lawyers in the UK. The aim of the scheme is to promote the use of arbitration in legal family disputes, which is bound to make the entire process less stressful and more efficient.

About family law arbitration

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Family law arbitration was first launched in 2012, but covered only the financial matters; from now on, however, the “Children Scheme” will open up an array of opportunities to resolve issues of parental responsibility, child’s welfare, relocation in England and Wales, visiting arrangements, education, non-life threatening medical treatments, and others.

This is how IFLA describes family arbitration: “Arbitration is a form of dispute resolution which takes place outside a formal courtroom. The parties enter into an agreement under which they appoint a suitably qualified person (an arbitrator) to adjudicate a dispute concerning finances or children. They agree to be bound by the reasoned written decision of the arbitrator. The arbitrator’s decision is called an Award (finances) or a Determination (children).” The law of England and Wales applies to all arbitrations under the Scheme.

Summarised benefits

The pros for choosing arbitration over a standard case in court are plentiful, so we’ll state just the most important ones:

  • Arbitration can take place anytime (the timetable of hearings can be adapted to suit the schedules of both parties)…
  • … and anywhere (usually in a place less intimidating and formal than a courtroom)
  • The parties can choose their arbitrator
  • Arbitrations is confidential and takes place in privacy

This is what James Roberts, a board member of IFLA, had to say about the scheme:

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“The extension of the financial arbitration scheme, which is already successful, to deal with issues surrounding children will give parties the ability to use arbitration to resolve all of their family issues in circumstances where they cannot reach an agreement. (…) The IFLA scheme of arbitration provides a valuable and tailor made solution in times of increasing pressure upon the court system. Choice of arbitrator, continuity of tribunal, confidentiality and speed of decision making are the hallmarks of the financial scheme, and it’s great that all are now available now in children’s disputes too”.

In general, arbitration is a quicker, cheaper, much more flexible and less formal way of solving a dispute, so it’s only to be expected more and more families will be opting out to sort their affairs outside of the courtroom.