The New Family Law Arbitration Children Scheme

Private Law (Child Arrangements Programme (CAP))

25 July 2016

It may not be well known yet but, last week, the 18th July 2016, the Institute of Family Law Arbitrators (IFLA) launched the Family Law Arbitration Children Scheme (‘the Children Scheme’), by which private law children disputes may be dealt with by arbitration.

This means that disputes over children may now be dealt with by an arbitrator away from the court arena and on a timetable and agenda set by the parties.

The scheme is an extension of the existing Family Law Arbitration Scheme already allowing for financial remedy disputes to be dealt with by arbitration and, in exactly the same way, the scheme has statutory authority and is backed by the Judiciary, Resolutions and the Family Law Bar Association.

Commenting on the scheme’s launch, the Chair of IFLA, Rt Hon Lord Falconer of Thoroton, said:

“The new children arbitration scheme will enable couples to resolve disputes concerning parental responsibility of children more quickly, cheaply and in a more flexible, less formal setting than a court room. It will also guarantee confidentiality where that is required or necessary. These are all important ingredients to minimising conflict and supporting the best interests of children.

“At a time when our courts are under significant pressures, the availability of arbitration for children matters builds on the long and proud tradition arbitration has in other areas, and gives parents and practitioners another tool with which to resolve family disputes.”

Tom Cadman, Director of Governance and Legal Services at CIArb:

“The new scheme will have a vast impact on the arbitration landscape as we know it and CIArb’s training will ensure that arbitrators are trained to the highest professional standards before engaging in arbitrations under the scheme.”

Nigel Shepherd, Chair of Resolution:

“Resolution is committed to helping separating families find the best approach to resolving issues. Since its launch, arbitration has provided couples with a speedy, flexible and cost-effective way to sort out their finances where they cannot reach agreement. I’m delighted that this new scheme has been established to extend these benefits to those families needing a decision on the arrangements for their children.”

James Roberts, Treasurer of the FLBA:

“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 disputes too.”

More information about the scheme is available at IFLA or please contact Chambers to discuss further.

Philip Newton is one of very few currently qualified as a Children Arbitrator and the only one practising from Kent.

For help, advice or if you wish to instruct a member of Chambers, please contact our Clerking team