October 14, 2015

Why arbitration guarantees privacy in divorce

By Peter Jones, founder

The family law process of arbitration, which allows couples to reach a divorce settlement without the trauma of the courts, also brings privacy to the process.

As one of the first arbitrators in the country, when it was introduced in 2012, I am certain that it is a far better route than the trauma of daunting, lengthy, expensive court battles, which can also be highly visible.

The recent gagging order preventing media groups publishing financial details of Liam Gallagher and Nicole Appleton’s divorce raises the question of privacy at what is usually – even in the most amicable split – a sensitive time for both parties.

This is not a concern that occurs to most who embark on divorce, but there is a prospect of your private life and most intimate details being broadcast to the world. This is because, once you go court, some of the proceedings are placed in the public domain and the press are entitled to review and publish. They can also attend some of the hearing.

You may think that divorce reporting only applies to celebrity couples, but regional and national newspapers also devote many column inches to those of previously anonymous couples.

The splits of ‘ordinary’ people can be considered noteworthy enough to be served up for public consumption for several reasons: a salacious element; perceived wealth; accusations of an attempt to hide or offshore assets; or a link to a locally prominent business or individual.

This might not only be embarrassing and distressing for the couple themselves, but also their children, parents, business partners and other ‘stakeholders’.

You can apply for a gagging order but they are expensive with no guarantee of success. However, in arbitration the press would not be invited into the hearing. Consequently, they would have no information to report.

The family arbitrator, who is independent, rules on your finances and who should have what. Similar to a judge, they collect relevant facts and evidence and base their decision on this evidence – taking into account the views of both parties. The Award, is final and binding in both parties.

Arbitration is quicker and more efficient than court and meetings are arranged at the clients’ convenience and a mutually comfortable venue. It is worth investigating to keep the circumstances surrounding the split entirely veiled from public inspection.

As Columbian novelist and screenwriter Gabriel Garcia Marquez said: “All human beings have three lives: public, private and secret.”

If you have any comments, queries or concerns on divorce related issues, leave a comment below, call the team at Jones Myers on 0113 246 0055 or tweet us on @helpwithdivorce