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Dispute Resolution
Wednesday 22nd May 2024 Satvinder Sokhal 

‘A day in court’ or non-court dispute resolution?

Navigating a financial dispute amidst a relationship breakdown often leaves families emotionally strained. When emotions run high and relationships are at stake, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) offers a less confrontational way to resolve conflicts outside of court, focusing on open communication and tailored solutions. Unlike court proceedings, which can be far more stressful for the parties and may be lengthy, costly, and contentious.


There have been significant changes to the Family Procedure Rules with a particular focus on encouraging the parties to engage in ADR.

The court now requires you and your partner to explore Non-Court Dispute Resolution options and submit Form FM5 outlining your position on it prior to the initial hearing and at every subsequent stage. Furthermore, the court can now adjourn the proceedings if they believe the parties need to attend Non-Court Dispute Resolution or gather information and advice on it.

So, what is “Non-Court Dispute Resolution”?

The definition of “Non-Court Dispute Resolution” has been significantly broadened and now encompasses:

i) Mediation

ii) Collaborative practice

iii) Arbitration

iv) Evaluation by a neutral third party (such as private Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing (FDR))

Must you engage in Non-Court Dispute Resolution?

While the court can direct you and your partner to attend Non-Court Dispute Resolution, without your agreement, participation cannot be forced. However, if you don’t participate without a good reason, or if your conduct during the process is problematic, this will be taken into account when the court considers who should pay for the cost of the court proceedings later down the line.

There are exemptions to the requirement to engage in Non-Court Dispute Resolution. Should you wish to claim an exemption you would be required to provide evidence, and the court has a duty to check if the exemptions are valid and relevant.

What are the types of Non-Court Dispute Resolution you and your partner can engage in?


Mediation is a voluntary, confidential, and privileged form of dispute resolution where a neutral and impartial third party mediator enables discussion between you and your partner to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. The mediator cannot impose a decision upon you and the main focus is to enable you to come to an agreement.


You and your partner can nominate an Arbitrator, or one can be appointed by the Institute of Family Law Arbitrator. The Arbitrator acts like a judge. They will listen to the arguments and make a decision. This method offers flexibility, efficiency, and privacy, allowing you to avoid the formalities of court while reaching a final resolution.

Arbitration is beneficial if you want a quick and bespoke resolution to your situation, leading to an amicable resolution. The decision of the Arbitrator is usually binding on the parties.


You and your partner will each select a collaborative lawyer to represent you. Together, you will attend a round table conference to negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement.

This method emphasises transparency and promotes negotiation and cooperation between the parties.

Changes in Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMS)

The updated Family Procedure Rules mandate that mediators in MIAMs must give you thorough details about mediation principles, processes, and Non-Court Dispute Resolution options.

They are expected to assess and explain to you about alternative dispute resolution methods which are most suitable to you and why. Additionally, mediators must offer guidance on how to proceed with the suggested method of dispute resolution.

Under the new update MIAM contains fewer exemptions which are now limited to Domestic Abuse, Child Protection Concerns, Urgency and if you have already attended a MIAM or non-court dispute resolution session in the past 4 months. You should attend mediation remotely if you cannot physically attend the mediation centre.


As families navigate the intricacies of legal challenges, embracing Alternative Dispute Resolution and leveraging mediation sessions can pave the way for an amicable resolution.

For personalised guidance and to explore the best option for your family’s unique circumstances, please contact Satvinder Sokhal by email on ssokhal@jpclaw.co.uk, telephone 020 7644 7284 to schedule a consultation today. Our dedicated team of family solicitors are here to support you every step of the way.


All articles on this website do not necessarily cover every aspect of a topic and are designed for information purposes. Reliance should not be placed on their contents without specific legal and financial advice first being taken.

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