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We asked Paul Slan, a lawyer & the Director of Professional Development at Gelman & Associates, some commonly asked questions about alternative dispute resolution services in Ontario. Please note that these answers are not intended as legal advice but rather as an introductory overview of a legal subject. For legal advice regarding dispute resolution services in Ontario, we recommend you contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our Ontario family lawyers.

Understanding Alternative Dispute Resolution in Ontario

Alternative dispute resolution refers to various processes designed to help parties resolve their family law issues without going to court. This includes mediation, arbitration, and negotiations between lawyers and/or parties. It can also include collaborative law. 

Types of Disputes Resolved Through Alternative Dispute Resolution

A range of disputes may be resolved through alternative dispute resolution processes. These include negotiating parenting issues, child support, spousal support, property issues, and claims involving unmarried couples. Some negotiated settlements, such as parenting issues and child support, may be subject to Court scrutiny if they are not in the children’s best interest or deviate from mandatory payment plans.

Alternative Dispute Resolution vs. Court 

The main benefit of using alternative dispute resolution as opposed to going to Court is that you are not leaving the decision-making to a third party. When two parties undergo a resolution process, they are more likely to come up with a solution better tailored to their needs and the needs of their children. In addition, alternative dispute resolution can be more cost-effective and less stressful than a traditional Court process.

Mediation as a Form of Alternative Dispute Resolution

The role of a mediator is to act as a facilitator who attempts to bring the parties to a mutually satisfactory compromise. The mediator does not make decisions, but provides neutral opinions, especially in parenting matters. The mediator may present proposals and ideas to the parties, helping them work towards a resolution. If mediation fails, parties may proceed to arbitration, which functions similarly to a private Court. 

Arbitration as a Form of Alternative Dispute Resolution

An arbitrator, similar to a judge, conducts a formal process following the Arbitration Act. The arbitrator hears evidence, assesses legal submissions, and issues a final binding decision. The main advantage of arbitration is that it is a more private resolution process, and can be faster than litigation.

Collaborative Family Law as a Form of Alternative Dispute Resolution

Collaborative family law is a method of alternative dispute resolution where all parties involved are committed to staying out of Court to resolve their issues. The distinctive feature is the strong incentive to settle, as failure to reach an agreement would require discharging lawyers and starting a new alternative dispute resolution process. 

The Costs of Alternative Dispute Resolution Compared to Going to Court 

In general, alternative dispute resolution is less expensive than going to Court. Court proceedings often require a greater time commitment and stricter formalities from the involved parties, which typically results in higher costs. Utilizing alternative dispute resolution methods can lead to significant savings.

Contact Gelman & Associates for a Consultation on Alternative Dispute Resolution Services in Ontario

If you would like to learn more or discuss the specifics of your case involving alternative dispute resolution services, contact us at Gelman & Associates and schedule a free consultation today. We have offices across Ontario in order to provide our clients with better access to justice.

Disclaimer: For specific legal advice on your family law matter, please consult with a family law lawyer. The content in this article is not intended to act as legal advice and is instead intended to act as a general overview of a legal topic.

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