WHAT FAMILY LAW DISPUTES CAN BE ARBITRATED?
It is safe to arbitrate relationship property disputes. If necessary the result can be legally enforced by registering the arbitration award in the High Court. [ click here] Relationship Property Arbitration (2014) 8 NZ Family Law Journal Issue 2].
The opportunity to arbitrate extends to relationship property disputes involving family trusts so long as the trustees agree to join in the arbitration. [click here Including trusts in relationship property arbitrations (2014) 8 NZLFJ 76. ]
Other kinds of family law dispute are more problematic under the law as it currently stands. Examples are ex-partner maintenance, child support, care of children, and family protection. Although it is still possible to arbitrate disputes in those areas, the arbitration award that results could be enforced only if approved by a second agency. The second agency is the Family Court in the case of ex-partner maintenance, care of children and family protection. It is the Commissioner of Inland Revenue in the case of child support. In those cases it may be preferable to bring proceedings directly in the Family Court, or apply to Inland Revenue, without the intermediate step of arbitration. An arbitration would be worthwhile only if the parties could be relied on to respect the arbitration award without the need for legal enforcement. [click here “The future for fighting families” (2014) Paper for AMINZ Conference Queenstown, 29 August 2014 (co-author).]