The landscape of family law is undergoing significant transformation with the introduction of the Family Procedure (Amendment No 2) Rules 2023. These changes herald a pivotal shift towards non-court dispute resolution (NCD), aiming to resolve family disputes more efficiently and amicably. This blog post delves into the amendments, underscoring their potential impact on the dynamics of family law proceedings.

Emphasis on Non-Court Dispute Resolution (NCD):

Central to the amendments is the expansion of NCD’s definition and scope. This broadening encompasses traditional methods like mediation and arbitration, alongside newer approaches such as collaborative law and financial dispute resolution processes. By encouraging parties to consider alternatives beyond litigation, the amendments pave the way for swifter, more cost-effective resolutions. This shift acknowledges the critical role of NCD in alleviating the emotional and financial strain often associated with family disputes.

Advantages of Emphasis on NCD:

  • Cost-Effectiveness: NCD methods, such as mediation, arbitration, and collaborative law, often incur lower costs than traditional court litigation. This is due to reduced legal fees, fewer court costs, and the potential for faster resolution.


  • Speed of Resolution: NCD can lead to quicker settlements. Without the need to wait for court dates and lengthy legal procedures, parties can resolve their disputes in a more timely manner.


  • Privacy and Confidentiality: NCD processes are typically private, allowing parties to avoid the public disclosure of personal and sensitive information that could occur in court proceedings. See also recent case in LS v PS (Rev1) [2021] EWFC 108, Roberts J. (23 December 2021)


  • Control Over the Process: Parties have more control over the resolution process in NCD. They can choose their mediator or arbitrator or private FDR judge and have more flexibility in scheduling sessions and shaping the outcome.


  • Preservation of Relationships: NCD methods focusing on cooperation and communication. This approach can help preserve relationships, which is particularly beneficial in family disputes involving young children.


  • Emotional Well-being: By fostering a more cooperative environment, NCD can reduce the emotional stress and antagonism often associated with litigation, contributing to the emotional well-being of all involved.

Disadvantages of Emphasis on NCD:

  • Lack of Legal Precedent: Decisions made through NCD do not create legal precedents on a case which might have not been decided before and has a “novel point of law”, which can be a disadvantage for establishing broader legal principles or for individuals seeking to influence the development of law.


  • Potential for Power Imbalances: In situations where there is a significant power imbalance between the parties, NCD might not offer sufficient protection to the weaker party, unlike the court system which has mechanisms to address such disparities.


  • Enforceability Issues: While agreements reached through NCD can be legally binding, enforcing these agreements may require additional legal steps to ask the court to approve a consent order, especially if one party later reneges on the agreement.


  • Not Suitable for All Disputes: NCD may not be appropriate for all types of disputes, especially those involving complex legal questions or where one party is uncooperative with disclosure, or has (trust) assets offshore.


  • No Guaranteed Resolution: Unlike a court decision, there is no guarantee that NCD will result in a resolution. Parties may invest time and resources in NCD only to find they need to resort to litigation later anyway.


Frank Arndt , co-founder of Paradigm Family Law states:At Paradigm we have promoted private FDRs since 2017 and the “new” emphasis on NCD in the Family Procedure (Amendment No 2) Rules 2023 aims to leverage the advantages of NCD while mitigating its disadvantages, recognising its potential to transform the resolution of family disputes into a more positive and constructive process, which benefits families going through separation , in particular when young children are involved”.

Enhanced Role of MIAMs

The amendments elevate the significance of Mandatory Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) in promoting NCD. MIAM providers will now play a crucial role in guiding parties towards the NCD method best suited to their circumstances. This ensures informed decision-making before any court action, emphasising the importance of understanding all available options.

Domestic Abuse Considerations

With a keen awareness of the complexities surrounding domestic abuse, the amendments broaden its definition to align with the Domestic Abuse Act 2021. While exemptions from MIAMs for legitimate reasons remain intact, the enhanced focus on domestic abuse awareness ensures that individuals in such situations receive appropriate support and consideration.

Early Exploration of NCD

A notable rule encourages parties to discuss NCD options at the outset, even before initiating court proceedings. This approach promotes transparency and collaboration from the start, allowing the court to be apprised of the parties’ NCD preferences and potentially facilitating alternative solutions outside the courtroom.

Enhanced Judicial Discretion

Previously constrained by the need for both parties’ consent, judges now possess greater latitude to suggest alternative dispute resolution processes. This empowerment allows the court to adopt a more proactive stance in steering parties towards amicable settlements, even in the absence of unanimous agreement.

Financial Implications

In financial remedy cases, the reluctance to engage in NCD without valid justification may lead to adverse cost consequences. This provision acts as a deterrent against bypassing alternative dispute resolution options, incentivising parties to earnestly consider and pursue NCD before resorting to litigation.


The Family Procedure (Amendment No 2) Rules 2023 mark a “paradigm shift” towards a more NCD-centric approach in resolving family disputes. By fostering collaboration, advocating for early exploration of alternatives, and granting enhanced judicial discretion, these amendments strive to streamline the resolution process, reduce associated costs, and ultimately secure better outcomes for all involved. As the landscape of family law continues to evolve, these changes represent a significant step forward in adapting to the needs and realities of modern families.


Paradigm Family Law have a team of experienced and highly recommended divorce lawyers to help guide you through the process of divorce, just waiting to hear from you.

If you would like more details on this or want to discuss your family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact James, Frank, or Evelyn. Paradigm Family Law offers a free initial consultation with a top rated divorce lawyer and our fixed fee solutions cover financial proceedings from start to finish. You can call us on 01904 217225 or email us to [email protected].