Arbitration is the practice of dispute resolution. During arbitration, each party tells his side of the dispute to the arbitrator and requests a resolution. Both parties may support their cases with witnesses and documents and make arguments. Then, an impartial third party determines a dispute in a private and judicial manner.
Arbitrators reach fair resolutions for family law disputes, such as support and custody of children. A single arbitrator or a tribunal, which can include of any number of arbitrators, may participate in an arbitration hearing. The procedure must be fair and take into consideration the best interests of children, if they are involved.
When to Arbitrate
Both parties must be in agreement on the process before it can begin. An arbitration agreement is binding only when the following conditions apply:
- The agreement occurs after the dispute
- The agreement is in writing
- The agreement details how the award may be appealed
- Both parties confirm they have received independent legal advice
- The arbitrator certifies the screening of both sides for domestic violence or power imbalances
- The arbitrator must be able to confirm that he has had training approved by the Attorney General
- The arbitration proceeds under the law of Alberta or another Canadian jurisdiction
All of these conditions must apply for the arbitrator’s decision to be enforceable in court.
Things to Remember
To ensure the arbitration process runs smoothly and the court does not set aside your agreement, a few precautions must be taken.
- Disclose any relevant financial information
- Ensure you understand the consequences of the agreement
- Define in the agreement the questions the arbitrator is to resolve
- Both sides should speak to an arbitrator or lawyers to decide what procedure works best
- The arbitrator only has the power allotted in the agreement
- Only courts, not arbitrators, grant divorces, annul marriages or declare a child to be or to not be someone else child
Call Jones Divorce & Family Law if you think you need arbitration. We have years of dispute resolution experience and will be happy to provide you with a free, confidential consultation.