In recent years there has been endorsements from the Courts and profession of mediation as a means of trying to resolve difficulties divorcing couple’s financial affairs. What is less well known is that there are other forms of resolving disputes that also do not involve Court proceedings.
I recently attended what is known as a “Private Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing”. This is a form of alternative dispute resolution where the parties to the litigation were able to privately appoint their own “Judge” who gives their guidance and their views on how the matter would be resolved in Court.
In my particular Private Financial Dispute Resolution the guidance the Judge gave proved especially effective because the Judge was able to spend the entire day on the matter and give some very specific and clear guidance. The outcome he suggested virtually resolved the case (although the parties are still disputing some final terms). Nonetheless if demonstrated an interesting foray into another alternative means of resolving disputes.
I met and have heard District Judges in the past who comment that the Courts are very likely to uphold any agreement reached at a Private Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing. This approach has recently been endorsed by the Head of the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Munby, who has emphasised that he increasingly intends to respect agreements made between the parties (see in particular the decision of Lord Justice Munby in the case of S v S  EWHC 7 (Fam)).