The Institute of Family Law Arbitrators (IFLA) has today (18 July) launched the Family Law Arbitration Children Scheme (‘the Children Scheme’), set to bolster the use of arbitration relating to family disputes.

Since its launch in 2012, family law arbitration has been available to deal with financial matters. The new scheme now offers the opportunity to resolve disputes concerning the exercise of parental responsibility and other private law issues about the welfare of children by arbitration.

This form of arbitration will cover issues relating to where children should live, how much time they should spend with each parent and relocation in England & Wales. The scheme has been developed by a multi-disciplinary team of leading Family Lawyers.

More information about the scheme is available at

Commenting on the scheme’s launch, which took place at Inner Temple, 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 added:

“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 (and family arbitrator), said:

“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, board member of IFLA and arbitrator said:

“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”.