Alternate Dispute Resolution

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ADR Lawyers: Helping Resolve Family Law Disputes

Cheaper, Friendlier Divorce? Is It Really Possible?

Alternate dispute resolution or alternative dispute resolution is a relatively new way to approach family law conflicts. It is possible to work out differences with your former spouse or common law partner without entering into the adversarial system. This system, sometimes called ADR can produce better results, reduce stress, cost less and leave people in a better place than traditional court based family law litigation. The Calgary, Alberta lawyers at Kahane Law Office can help with Alternative Dispute Resolution.

What Is Alternate Dispute Resolution?

Alternate dispute resolution is a way of negotiating and settling your family law disagreements. There is even an alternative dispute resolution institute in Alberta. They involve lawyers who work with both people in a relationship. Its intention is to have both people work together to find a result that works for both of them. There are various types of alternate dispute resolution in matrimonial legal matters. For example, these types include:

Represented Negotiation

Negotiation is a form of alternate dispute resolution where the two parties work together to come to an agreement on the issues. In Represented Negotiation, the parties’ lawyers help throughout that negotiation process. Sometimes it may be as simple as the lawyers exchanging emails or having a brief telephone conversation, and then reporting to and advising the clients. It could also include one or more “4-way Negotiation Meetings”, where both lawyers and both parties meet together in the same room (either in person or virtually). In a 4-way meeting, each party has the opportunity to express their concerns and negotiate with each other, just like in direct negotiation. However, it comes with the benefit of having their lawyer present to help keep emotions in check and provide advice in real time. 4-way meetings can be an efficient alternative dispute resolution process.

Family Law Mediation

The mediation process normally involves only one lawyer, the person who acts as the mediator. The mediator, with this alternate dispute resolution, is a lawyer who has not acted for either of the parties. The parties could choose to be represented by their respective lawyers throughout a mediation process, but this is certainly not necessary. Because only one lawyer is required, the couple immediately saves money. The lawyer works with the couple, explaining the law and their rights and legal obligations in their situation. The lawyer works with both parties to try to reach a mediated settlement. To learn more about mediation in family law click here.

Collaborative Family Law

Collaborative law alternate dispute resolution involves two lawyers. One represents each party to the relationship. Collaborative family law lawyers are trained to work together, representing their own client, in a collaborative way. They collaborate (work together) to find the best results with minimum stress. Learn more about collaborative law here.

Family Law Arbitration

Lastly, arbitration is kind of like a cross between mediation and litigation (the court process). The parties can choose to be represented by their own lawyer, or not. The Arbitrator is also a family law lawyer. Many lawyers that offer mediation services also offer arbitration services.

The process is similar to Court in that a 3rd party decision-maker makes the final decision. In court the Judge makes the decision, in arbitration it is the Arbitrator. The Arbitrator’s decision is legally binding, just like a Judge’s decision. However, unlike court, parties can often schedule an arbitration within a month or two. To get to a Queen’s Bench trial at court it often takes a year or more. Arbitration is private, whereas court is public. Court has a very formal process for gathering and exchanging evidence, whereas this process is usually much less formal in an arbitration. Everyone saves time and money because of that.

There are some things to note regarding arbitration: the parties pay the Arbitrator’s fees on top of their own lawyers’ fees; and once the parties choose to resolve a matter by arbitration, it may be very difficult (or impossible) to leave the arbitration process for court.

Parenting Coordination

Parenting Coordination is an alternative dispute resolution process (“ADR”), being an alternative to court, in which parents work with a Parenting Coordinator to resolve their parenting issues through mediation, counselling, and education to facilitate agreement. Learn more about Parenting Coordination here.

What happens If Alternative Dispute Resolution Fails?

Except with Arbitration, by entering a form of alternate dispute resolution, you do not give up your right to go to court. If ADR cannot help you and your partner reach a resolution you can both live with, then the legal system is still an option. If you used mediation,then the lawyer who was mediating the negotiations will not be able to act for you. In collaborative law, the lawyers normally agree that they will not act if the matter goes to court. This is not the case with collaborative law.

What Happens After Successful ADR?

If the ADR process is arbitration, the Arbitrator writes their decision. The parties can register that decision at the court as a Judgment if needed. In all other ADR process mentioned here, once you have reached a successful settlement, you can go on to enter into a separation agreement that reflects the terms of your settlement. From there, if you chose, you can go on to divorce and the divorce judgment terms should then reflect these same terms. There should be no more outstanding issues after alternative dispute resolution. In order to finalize the Divorce, one of the parties will apply to the courts for a divorce.

We call this process a “desk” divorce because the application ends up on a Judge’s desk. There are two types of “desk” divorces: “Uncontested“, or “Joint“. You do not need to attend a court hearing to finalize a desk divorce. The desk divorce will then reflect the terms of the agreement. As, after alternate dispute resolution, there should be no more outstanding issues. Next, the other party takes all of the necessary legal steps to finalize the legal divorce in the courts. A form of this process includes, for example, an uncontested or  “desk” divorce. This type of divorce lacks any court attendance. It then reflects the terms of the agreement reached in ADR.

Calgary Alternate Dispute Resolution Lawyers

Let us help you determine which path best fits your needs and your specific situation. Start by booking an initial consultation. One of our Calgary alternate dispute resolution lawyers at Kahane Law Office then guides you through the process. Take the fist step today by emailing us directly here. Alternatively please Phone us at (403) 225-8810.