Mediation And Arbitration

In a family law mediation process a mediator facilitates the conversation between the parties about legal issues. The mediator holds no power, and does not provide any advice (this is an interest based negotiation). The process is confidential, voluntary and is intended to help parties finalize legal issues.

A family mediation process provides a framework for the parties to determine each party's interests and to facilitate dialogue about topics such as parenting, spousal/child support, and property division. Where parties are formally married, they must sign their contract in front of independent lawyers before it is enforceable. Even in common law situations it is recommended that lawyers become involved at any point during the mediation process to ensure parties are negotiating from an informed standpoint.

A family arbitration process is different, in that parties leave with a decision on their issues that the arbitrator has made. The parties choose an arbitrator and give the arbitrator decision making power over their specified legal issues. This can save parties from experiencing the delay and expense of contested court proceedings. Parties obtain a private and confidential determination of specified issues which have been remitted to the Arbitrator for decision.

There are situations in mediation where the parties have reached impasse and agree that they need a resolution. There is typically great reluctance to move back to a court process. There is, therefore, a hybrid option – Mediation/Arbitration - offered by highly skilled mediators with arbitration training to resolve disputes that have reached impasse. It is important to choose the right professional to deliver this process.

In the Mediation/Arbitration (Med/Arb) process parties sign a retainer agreement in which they agree to start negotiations in mediation but have the option to jointly sign a "Request to Arbitrate" and convert the mediation proceedings into a binding arbitration process on the issues that they specify. Within the arbitration process, the Alberta Arbitration Act allows an arbitrator to use conciliation and other settlement based processes before finally deciding the matter and issuing the Arbitration Award.

The Med/Arb process utilizes all of the information which has been communicated by the parties. The Arbitrator, having decided the matter after hearing from both parties and receiving the documentation produced by them, will issue a written Arbitrator's Award.

Parties are also welcome to have their legal counsel at the table during the process.

Learn more about how a neutral mediator or arbitrator from Long Family Law Group LLP can help you and your former spouse to reach agreements or receive a decision to deal with your separation matters. Both parties will need to call 780-651-7070 or send us an email to arrange a free meeting with a mediator or arbitrator to discuss the mediation and arbitration processes before you commit to going ahead.