Virtual family dispute resolution

Published on
3 min read

Alternatives to the court process are more important than ever, offering you the opportunity to conduct negotiations remotely and by secure video call.

The global pandemic and the continued lock down in England and Wales has meant some courts are now closed and those which remain open are struggling to deal with much more than the most urgent cases. The courts are having to prioritise hearings which are required to protect the vulnerable from physical and serious emotional harm.

Mills & Reeve are ready to help with a full range of virtual dispute resolution options including family mediation, lawyer-assisted mediation, collaborative law, arbitration and private Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) hearings, as well as solicitor negotiation.

Family mediation

For clients that are able to communicate to an extent, are willing to try to find a resolution to the issues and to make decisions without feeling under undue pressure or coercion, family mediation is a great alternative to court. It usually takes place over a series of meetings, either with the clients together or separately if required.

We have 14 specialist family mediators, all of whom can meet with clients virtually, wherever they are based. 

We can also offer child inclusive mediation where appropriate.  

Lawyer-assisted mediation

If communications between the parties is tricky, or if parties need more support, lawyer-assisted mediation is a really good, cost-effective alternative to court. This usually involves both parties, their solicitors (and counsel if instructed) meeting on one day, in a series of separate and, if appropriate, joint meetings, with the process managed by the mediator, all of which can be done remotely.

Arbitration

As well as an award-winning mediation team, Mills and Reeve have several accredited arbitrators who can adjudicate and provide certainty for clients in these uncertain times. We offer both financial and children arbitration and are fully set up to arbitrate virtually. We offer fixed fee arbitrations which we will discuss in a FREE pre-commitment telephone call.

Arbitration can be helpful either for the whole case or for dealing with discrete issues. The sorts of disputes that can be resolved in arbitration include; finances on divorce; disputes between cohabitees; variation applications and the resolution of children issues. 

We know that the Children Arbitration Rules are just about to be amended to cover holiday contact and permanent relocation to certain jurisdictions and so will be able to offer you specific advice in light of these changes.

Once an arbitrator is appointed, they stay with the case throughout. The process is entirely bespoke and is fitted to the particular needs of the clients. The case can be adjudicated within weeks for a speedy resolution.

Private Financial Dispute Resolution hearing (FDRs)

The process is the same as a court-based FDR, although the practicalities are arranged at the convenience of all, and the FDR “judge” (usually an arbitrator, or deputy district judge sitting privately) will always give their indication of likely outcome on the issues in dispute.

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