Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) involves using two different processes to attempt to resolve family law matters related to a divorce, such as division of property, child custody and access, child support, and spousal support. In cases where ADR is recommended, it is highly encouraged since it is more cost-effective, timely, and practical to reach resolutions than waiting until disputes are resolved in a court of law in front of a judge. In addition, parties have flexibility to negotiate to reach settlement agreements and are not limited to turning matters over to the court, where all final decisions are made by the judge.
The first process in ADR is called Mediation and is a process where disputes are facilitated by a mediator. The divorcing couple, along with their Ottawa family law lawyers, meet in an agreed upon location, normally a law firm. Both parties have the right to choose the mediator, which is often a senior family lawyer. The mediator is responsible for opening dialogue and communications between the parties to start the negotiation process and resolve disputes.
The mediator does not have the legal right to make or enforce final decisions. All decisions are left entirely up to the divorcing couple. The goal is to get the parties to come to mutually acceptable terms without involving an arbitrator or judge. If there are still unresolved matters after mediation, the next ADR method that can be used, without having to go to court, is called Arbitration.
It is worth mentioning, Mediation is a viable form of ADR to use, even in cases where the divorcing couple is going through a contentious divorce. Both parties do not have to be in the same room during the negotiating process. Rather, they can remain in separate rooms and communicate their preferences through their divorce lawyers, who meet together with the mediator in the mediator’s room and relay information to him or her, until agreements are able to be made and a resolution reached. The mediator can also “shuttle” between two separate rooms of each party with their respective lawyers.
Arbitration is slightly different from Mediation, as the arbitrator does have the legal authority to make a final ruling in disputed matters.The arbitrator will review statements from both parties, either directly or through their divorce lawyers. Further, any evidence supporting the position of each party can be presented for consideration.
Arbitration is very useful in cases where a third party is required to reach an agreement. All decisions made by an arbitrator are legally binding and are not able to be contested in a court of law, in most cases. While both ADR processes are beneficial to reach a resolution in a divorce, they are not always suitable for all family law matters.
The above information is for informational purposes only and should not be used as actual legal advice. It is best to speak to a qualified family law lawyer in Ottawa about your particular situation, as every divorce case varies based upon the circumstances for the divorce. To learn more about either ADR process or to find out whether mediation or arbitration would be beneficial for your situation, call Davies Law Firm at 613-688-0462 to schedule a consultation today.