You know the route well. First you work with your opponent's solicitor to exchange relevant financial information. Often you don't waste your client's time and money on Form E and its superfluous supporting documents. You know straightaway that this is a one or two issue case only. Quickly and economically you narrow the argument to its core.
Despite sensible legal advice on at least one side, the clients simply can't be brought to agree. What next? Up until now there was only one alternative; issue Form A. Wait three months or so for the first hearing. Fill the time by preparing all the unnecessary documentation you studiously avoided before, at your client's cost, of course. Attend a first appointment at which nothing constructive takes place. Hope that you'll have a decent judge at the FDR and bad luck if you don't.
Arbitration is by far the better option. If the financial disclosure was good enough for two experienced professionals, it'll be sufficient for a judge. If you know enough about the parties' finances to be able to advise on settlement, a judge will see enough to be able to take a decision. So why wait? Why increase the financial burden on the parties?
Refer to arbitration. With an agreed schedule of financial disclosure, coupled with your written submissions as to the appropriate order, a binding decision can be made in a fraction of the time it would take a court, with much less effort and with far less expense.
NFAS arbitrators are all part time judges -- in other words, exactly the sort of people who would be taking the decisions at court. A key distinction, however, is that they all have a professional background in family finance. At court, of course, you may encounter a judge with little or no experience of the field. In virtually every standard case, a fixed arbitration fee is set at the outset, so the parties know immediately what it will cost and can identify how it will be paid.
Arguably the worst outcome for a solicitor is the client with a limited budget who runs out of money before achieving finality. In a sense, the money expended to date is substantially wasted. If negotiation uses up the majority of the available funds, arbitration can be the simple, cost effective to bring matters to a satisfactory conclusion. Without the need for duplication of disclosure, unnecessary directions appointments or the preparation of standardised pleadings, a quick and economical conclusion can be drawn.