Family Arbitration | Divorce Arbitration
Family arbitration is like having a private judge, chosen by you and your former partner/spouse, to settle your family law dispute for you. It is a process that is growing in popularity for several reasons. It is, however, not the right process for everyone and anyone considering family arbitration (also called divorce arbitration) should do a lot of research before doing so because family arbitration is legally binding, meaning a family arbitrator’s decision is final.
When relationships and marriages break down, people usually try several ways of settling matters with each other. Those ways often include attempts to negotiate a deal directly with each other; working with a family mediator; and/or retaining family lawyers to negotiate a deal, including collaborative family lawyers.
When all of those efforts have failed to result in a settlement, parties are left with three options: go to court, do nothing or hire an arbitrator for family arbitration.
Going to Court Versus Family Arbitration
There are many benefits to going to court. They include:
- Court is free. You can represent yourself and pay nothing other than court fees.
- Legal Aid Ontario provides limited summary legal advice to those who qualify in court. Ontario’s Duty and Advice Counsel are a great free resource for the public.
- Family mediation is free in court. Ontario funds free court-based mediation for all disputes, including family mediation. The mediators are regulated and insured and must meet strict standards. Free, in-court, on-site family mediation is available at mediate393.com
- Many other free services are available in Ontario’s courts, including domestic violence support, and Family Law Information Centres (FLICs) with resource specialists who are dedicated to helping families experiencing separation and divorce. Here is a searchable database to locate a FLIC near you.
- There are police and security in the courts, which can provide safety and peace of mind if domestic violence is a concern.
- Free translation can be available in the courts.
- The courts are open and public, which makes them accountable. This can be reassuring for people who feel that the other person is not acting in good faith.
- Last but hardly least, our family court judges are of the highest calibre. Every judge has met a known, high standard. Judges attend regular continuing education in family law. Judges sitting in family court care deeply about the families whose lives they affect. You are getting high quality justice, for free, when you go to court.
In court, a judge can make an order that the other party must obey or else they could be found in contempt of court and, in some cases, go to jail if they do not. Judges can make immediately enforceable, no-contact orders, financial production orders, orders for possession of a home or orders to preserve property from being dissipated. Court orders are immediately enforceable. For people who have separated from an ungovernable or dangerous person, the courts provide valuable protection and service, for free.