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How To Navigate The Alberta Family Court System

How To Navigate The Alberta Family Court System

In the past few years, changes to Alberta’s court process have made it more challenging for families to get access to justice quickly. With the ever-growing population in Calgary and shortage of justices in Alberta, Calgary family law firms are experiencing a spike in legal services needed.

The reality is that the court system is stressed and the court has had to make procedural changes in order to manage its incredible caseload. However, there are alternative dispute resolutions available to help you resolve these issues outside of the formal court process. Our family lawyers in Calgary are highly trained in alternative dispute resolution methods including mediation, arbitration, negotiation, and parenting coordination.

How Evolving Court Procedures Impact Families

Unfortunately, people involved in divorce-related litigation are faced with an access to justice issue. This means that there can be a significant time gap between when a party formally applies for the courts assistance to have a dispute heard and the time that issue is actually heard in court. There can even be a timely delay to get into morning chambers, which is intended for relatively straightforward or brief disputes.

The court is doing its best to accommodate people, but the reality is, litigation is extremely time-consuming. The notable exception to people having to wait is for those who are faced with safety issues. If someone is facing a domestic violence situation and needs protection they can always apply for an emergency protection order and those applications are certainly being heard in a very timely manner.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Options

People are increasingly looking outside of the court system for assistance, particularly mediation and arbitration services with family law lawyers in Calgary.

  • Arbitration – A way to resolve disputes relatively quickly and privately. Parties retain an independent professional to hear their matter and render a binding decision, thereby eliminating the need to litigate an issue in the court. Arbitration is available for a one-off issue, such as an application to travel over the holidays with children or for the resolution of all of the issues in dispute between parties. It can be a quick and streamlined process or it can be a more fulsome hearing, depending on the circumstances and the parties’ wishes. It can be done either with lawyers or without. In fact, it’s arguably easier for self-represented people to navigate the arbitration process than the court process. This is because arbitration is a far more informal atmosphere and the rules of nature apply instead of the rules of court.
  • Mediation Arbitration – A hybrid process where the independent professional is hired first to work with the parties and assist them in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution to their dispute. If an amicable resolution is not possible, an arbitration hearing and a binding decision are imposed upon the parties. Mediation alone is another option and there are certainly others but the bottom line is that these alternate options allow parties to resolve their disputes far more efficiently and often at a significantly reduced cost.

The bottom line is, litigation is not the only answer. Most divorce and Calgary family law firms have lawyers that are trained and experienced in mediation and arbitration. We at Jones Divorce & Family Law LLP can offer these services.

Disclaimer: The content provided in the blog posts of Jones Divorce & Family Law is general information and should not be considered legal advice. Please contact a lawyer for legal advice tailored to your specific situation. All articles are current as of their original publication date.