Alternative dispute resolution helps parties find mutually beneficial solutions to their legal problems – while avoiding the expense and risk of going to court. At Young Family Law, we can help you engage in the various forms of alternative dispute resolution and assist with your Alberta family law matters.
The following alternatives are available as a means of resolving any outstanding issues between you and your spouse:
You may negotiate directly with your spouse. Very often, the most fruitful discussions take place directly between the spouses. You and your spouse may want to consider obtaining independent legal advice before you discuss settlement in depth. If negotiating directly with your spouse is not successful, an alternative could be for the negotiations to take place between lawyers for each party.
An alternative form of negotiation is for the parties to attend before a neutral third-party mediator who facilitates settlement discussions directly between the parties. A mediator encourages settlement options and may offer an opinion as to how to resolve the issues. The opinion of the mediator is only an opinion and is in no way binding on the parties. Both parties should have independent legal advice before proceeding to mediation.
For over 20 years, Tony Young has demonstrated an interest in the mediation of Family and Divorce law issues in Alberta. He has continued to use Collaborative Law, Interest based Negotiations and non-adversarial resolutions of family law disputes to avoid court.
If negotiations are not successful, parties may proceed to arbitration. This form of dispute resolution relies on an independent third party, who is usually appointed by the parties, to settle the dispute by rendering a binding decision. The process is relatively straight forward and generally less costly than proceeding to litigation. In most cases though, there is no appeal from an arbitration award.
The relatively new concept of Collaborative Law involves both parties and their respective lawyers signing an agreement to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement on a principled basis. There is also an agreement between the parties involved, agreeing not to commence litigation proceedings while participating in the collaborative process. If either party files an action in court, the collaborative process ends and both lawyers must stop working for their clients. If this happens, new counsel must be retained for the litigation process.
Dispute Resolution Officers are senior family law lawyers who volunteer their time to aid families in achieving settlement. The meetings are conducted informally, and clients’ counsel may or may not be present. The purpose of the meeting is to resolve as many issues as possible and, ultimately, to achieve settlement. This may be a mandatory step in the litigation process if child custody is an issue, or if a Judge orders the parties to. Parties to an action are welcome to initiate a DRO meeting on their own accord.
This form of dispute resolution is conducted with the parties to the action, their lawyers and a judge. The judge hears the facts of the matter and gives an opinion as to how the court will likely rule on the issues at hand. The opinion of the judge is only an opinion and is not binding. The process is completely confidential, and any opinions expressed by the judge cannot be presented in court, should the matter proceed to trial. The purpose of this process, just as with the others, is to promote settlement between the parties.