Family arbitration

Effectively a privatised court service, family arbitration is an alternative way of resolving disputes on divorce and separation. At a time when government cutbacks mean the courts are increasingly under resourced, this can be a quicker and more cost effective route than going to court.

Helping to resolve family issues swiftly

If you are going through a divorce or separation, you may want to consider family arbitration as a way of helping you to get a legally binding decision about financial issues.

Family arbitration is a relatively new service that was only launched in 2012. It offers a number of advantages over negotiating in court, including the following: 

  • The timetable can be decided by the family arbitrator and agreed by the parties – saving considerable time and uncertainty. 
  • It is a discreet and confidential process, unlike the court process, which can be reported by the press.
  • The family arbitration process can be customised, rather than being “one size fits all” like the court system. In many cases, just a single issue prevents a couple from achieving a settlement and family arbitration enables them to focus on it and resolve it. 
  • The family arbitrator can be chosen with the agreement of the parties, and the process can take place in a more comfortable setting than the courts provide. 
  • Family arbitration is more flexible and focused than the court process. The case is given the length of time it needs, and the family arbitrator is guaranteed to have prepared properly – unlike in the over burdened court system.

Another potential advantage of family arbitration is that an arbitral award may be recognised in other jurisdictions, providing a much quicker and more effective means of achieving legal recognition and enforcement in those jurisdictions.


Our family arbitrators

  • Our family arbitration service is led by National Head of Family Law Nigel Shepherd and partners Roger Bamber and Nick Stone, who are all top rated as leading individuals within family law
  • They are all members of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators as well as Resolution, a network of family lawyers and other professionals committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes
  • Our family arbitrators have extensive experience as family and divorce solicitors and Roger Bamber and Nick Stone are also experienced family mediators. All three have national reputations for their legal expertise and handling of complex cases, including dealing with High Court cases.

What our clients and others say about us

Our family solicitors are regarded nationally as market leaders. We are highly rated in both Chambers UK and Legal 500, following independent research. Comments about our lawyers from peers and clients include the following: 

  • “Nigel Shepherd enjoys a good reputation and regularly handles high value and mid market ancillary relief work as well as complex pensions work, private children cases and pre-marital agreements. The team recently acted for a wife in a collaborative case involving assets of £8 million.” (Legal 500) “He is ‘a leading light in Resolution’”. Chambers UK 
  • “Roger Bamber … is known to be an outstanding strategist as well as a great lawyer.” “Clients recall his ‘emotional understanding; he was non confrontational but had the integrity to know when to stand his ground effectively’.” Chambers UK
  • “’Always one step ahead’, Nick Stone puts clients at ease.” Legal 500

Legal resources you may find useful

  • Divorce.co.uk: family arbitration – our family law website offering free information on divorce, including a specific guidance and video content covering arbitration. 
  • The Family through Divorce – a guide to the legal and emotional issues – Roger Bamber, joint author with psychologist Dr Janet Reibstein and psychiatrist Dr Jeannette Josse. 
  • Family Law Hub – this is a groundbreaking knowhow base available for subscription online. It contains Mills & Reeve’s knowhow and legal research, together with video content on legal topics.