Despite what many people think, divorces do not need to end up in conflict in the courts.
Your final divorce decree must be signed by a judge but you can avoid a court battle and the litigation process entirely by considering alternative dispute methods like arbitration.
It is normal for two spouses not to agree on everything when negotiating a divorce agreement. The disputed matters can be settled with the help of a professional arbitrator who will make the final decisions based on careful consideration of the evidence presented.
Jennings Family Law is excited to share that Beecher Menzies, the premier family lawyer in Airdrie Alberta, has joined our team of compassionate and highly skilled family lawyers. Beecher brings 24 years of experience helping Canadian families navigate the difficulties of divorce, separation, and estate disputes with the most amicable path forward.
This is how many couples in Alberta settle issues like property division, child custody, spousal support, parenting issues, and so on.
It is especially useful for couples who have tried divorce mediation or collaboration but still have disputed matters outstanding.
At Jennings Family Law in Airdrie, we can help you come to an arbitrated agreement that keeps your divorce out of the courts.
The Alberta courts encourage divorcing couples to seek alternative dispute methods to avoid over-burdening the courts with matters that can be solved in other ways.
Both mediation and arbitration may have a role to play in divorce proceedings but there are some key differences.
In mediated settlements, you and your spouse hire an independent mediator to help work towards a settlement.
You remain in control of the decisions and do not need to abide by any suggestions made by the mediator who essentially acts as a facilitator in the process.
Sometimes, it is written into mediation agreements that if no solution is found, an arbitrator will be appointed to decide matters.
The Arbitration Act of Alberta permits couples to appoint an independent adjudicator to make legally binding decisions about their separation without going to court.
The arbitrator will examine the evidence provided by each party and attempt to reach a fair decision on outstanding matters.
You and your spouse will need to agree in writing to abide by the arbitrator’s legally binding decision. Appealing these decisions is notoriously difficult.
Once arbitration begins, you must follow the process through until a resolution is reached or the arbitrator resigns or is removed by a court order.
Think of arbitrators as private judges. Their decision (or “award” as it is termed) carries the same weight as a court order.
Often, senior family lawyers are qualified arbitrators and perform similar roles to judges in divorce cases.
An arbitrator is empowered to decide on outstanding disputed issues or to resolve cases where a deadlock exists between two spouses. Professional arbitrators are experienced in gathering evidence and making calculated decisions.
If a couple can resolve some but not all of their differences through mediation, an arbitrator may be called in after the mediator to bring finality to the process.
In some cases, senior lawyers may be qualified to act as both mediators and arbitrators. In such instances, once the mediation process is concluded, the same professional might be qualified to make final decisions on the outstanding issues based upon the evidence presented.
The arbitration process is a little like a court trial in a less formal and more private setting. It can be conducted in a lawyer’s office.
The process requires written agreement from both spouses before it starts. Couples normally prefer that their lawyers are present at the arbitration hearing(s) but this is not mandatory.
The arbitrator will normally guide you through the following process:
Arbitration is generally quicker and less expensive than litigation. In many cases, the arbitrator will charge an hourly rate that is comparable with the costs of hiring a senior lawyer.
These costs are usually shared between the two spouses, depending on their ability to pay.
Arbitration can be an effective way to settle divorce-related disputes. It has several advantages over litigation:
A key difference between arbitration and litigation is that arbitration requires the written consent of both you and your spouse before commencing, Litigation is initiated by one party only.
Arbitration is not right for every divorcing couple – but it might be the best option if you have significant unresolved differences with your spouse but want to avoid litigation.
A professional arbitrator from Jennings Family Law can help you reach a fair settlement that remains private and avoids the stress of public court hearings.
We will prepare all the necessary documentation and help you arrive at an equitable, legally binding solution so that you can both move on with your lives.