Alternative Dispute Resolution: Options As Unique As Your Family

When a relationship breaks down, there are many decisions to be made.  Many people assume that they have to go to court if they cannot come to an agreement on these decisions.  This is not the case; there are many alternative dispute resolution options (“ADR”) available.

Why should you use alternative dispute resolution?

Resolving family disputes in a settlement-focused way, outside the traditional court system, is increasingly common. ADR has the potential to provide greater control, flexibility and customized results when contrasted with the rigid and costly litigation system. Furthermore, we are seeing more government policies encouraging non-litigation. The Family Law Rules themselves provide incentives to settle and divert families away from lengthy and expensive court battles. 

“Bargaining in the shadow of the law”

We say that ADR allows you to ‘bargain in the shadow of the law’, because rather than having a judge make a decision based on legislation and case law precedent, you use those tools as guides to come up with solutions that are unique as your family and the issues you are facing. 

The Alternative Dispute Resolution Spectrum

Are you considering an alternative to litigation to resolve your family law dispute?  There are many ADR options available, including:

Negotiations: Negotiations will occur regardless of what process option you choose. They can take various forms, from informal negotiations between the parties around the kitchen table to formal negotiations between lawyers. The process of reaching a settlement can be dynamic, so negotiation will form the backbone of any agreement reached. Successful negotiation can also narrow the number of issues that need to be addressed in a more structured forum, such as mediation, arbitration or court. 

Collaborative Family Law: CFL is a settlement-focused process whereby parties and their lawyers sign participation agreements and work collaboratively understand each other’s goals and motivations for the purpose of reaching a mutually satisfying settlement. Learn more about CFL here. 

Mediation: In mediation, a neutral third party works with the parties to achieve agreements. Mediation can be done with or without the parties being represented by lawyers. Mediators can be members of professions other than law such as social workers, psychologists, and clergy. Proper mediations help to facilitate communication while ensuring that clients are in the drivers seat to achieve a settlement. If parties to a mediation come to an agreement in writing, they should receive independent legal advice.

Arbitration:  An arbitrator is essentially a private judge. Much like going to court, the process is conducted in accordance with law and has the legal effect of a judge’s order. Sometimes arbitration is part of a hybrid process, such as ‘med-arb’ where parties will only proceed to arbitration failing attempts at mediation. While arbitration can seem expensive as the parties pay for it themselves, it can be great way to resolve issues expeditiously and it the long run you can sometimes save money compared to traditional litigation.

You deserve a fresh start. No matter which dispute resolution pathway you choose, we are here to help.  See how Fresh Legal helps you get there.

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Jennifer Reynolds @freshstartott  / Katherine O'Hagan @legalpianist  / Kayla Sanger @klasanger

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