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What is a Family Arbitrator?

Similar to a judge in court, a Family Arbitrator performs the role of decisions-maker about your family law issues.  

A family Arbitrator ensures that relevant facts and pieces of evidence are collected in order to make a decision based on evidence.  The Arbitrator will also consider your views on what the outcome should be, as well as those of your partner.  The Arbitrator's final decision is binding.

Sometimes Arbitrators will use a combination of different dispute processes including mediation and negotiation.  In some cases, the parties can simply file written submissions and the award will be based on those submissions. 

You can choose an Arbitrator and have your lawyers continue to represent you to make submissions, or you can be self-represented.


Any decision of a Family Arbitrator must be consistent with the law including The Children's Law Act, 1997, The Family Maintenance Act, 1997, The Family Property Act and The Divorce Act.   


What are the disadvantages of Family Arbitration?

  • You have to pay the Arbitrator's fees and often there will be costs for recording each family arbitration hearing.  You do not pay a judge for his or her time in the regular court process.

What are the benefits of Arbitration?

  • You can choose a Family Arbitrator who you feel has the right experience to deal with issues that need to be decided.  You can't choose a judge and cannot be confident that the judge who is appointed to your case is an expert on the subject you need to have decided.  

  • The Family Arbitrator you choose can deal with every stage of the process so you get more consistency and are not required to explain the everything again each time you go back OR you can choose exactly which issues you want the Arbitrator to decide.  For instance, you might have agreed upon how much spousal support will be paid, but you can't agree on how long it will be paid.  Or you may wish to have an Arbitrator decide about whether the house should be sold now or whether it can remain unsold until some time in the future.

  • It can be much quicker than going to court.

  • It can be much less expensive.

  • You can choose your location and timing.  Arbitrators do not use formal court rooms nor do they require formal courtroom attire.  

  • Confidentiality is assured because there are no journalists or visitors wandering the halls outside the courtroom

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