Mediation & Arbitration
Mediation and arbitration are options where couples in the midst of separation and divorce try to settle their dispute with a neutral person without having to resort to full-blown litigation.
At WK Family Law, our lawyers are experienced in both mediation and arbitration. Learn more about each area below.
Mediation is a negotiation facilitated by a neutral third party—a mediator. At WK Family Lawyers LLP we have a number of trained and experienced mediators. In addition, all of our lawyers regularly attend lawyer-assisted mediation with clients in an effort to achieve a mutually agreeable resolution to their matrimonial issues stemming from the separation.
Mediation is a voluntary process. Any outcomes or agreements reached are non-binding until they are formalized into a court order or contract, which has been signed by both parties upon having obtained independent legal advice.
Many clients choose to participate in mediation as their preferred process because it is generally more cost-effective and faster than going through the court system—especially litigation. It is also often the preferred mechanism as it helps parties craft their own solutions for their unique family situation instead of relying on a third party to make the decisions for them.
Child Centred Mediation
Child centered mediation is a process in which children aged 5 years and older are given an opportunity to meet with a mediator trained in this process or trained child consultant to receive basic information about the process and be allowed to provide their thoughts and feelings about their family circumstance. The children will not be asked any questions that suggest they make any decisions related to their living circumstances. This is a standardized process for increasing the voice of the child in family law processes.
Arbitration is another common binding alternative dispute resolution process. In arbitration, the parties give an independent neutral third party the authority to make a decision on one or more issues concerning their divorce or separation.
The Arbitrator is often a lawyer trained in arbitration and in Alberta the process is governed by the Arbitration Act, R.S.A. 2000.
Before submitting a matter to arbitration, the parties execute an Arbitration Agreement, which outlines the jurisdiction of the Arbitrator as well as procedural steps to be taken. An Arbitration hearing can be conducted in various ways. Some clients decide on a very informal process while others opt for a formal process resembling a trial. Clients typically discuss and decide on the different options most suitable for their case with legal counsel.
The decision rendered by an Arbitrator is called an “Arbitration Award”. The Award is a binding decision and parties and counsel typically incorporate the document into a court order. The grounds for appeal of an Arbitration Award are extremely narrow.