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Choosing family arbitration to settle your divorce issues

When it comes to divorce, there may be issues upon which you and your soon-to-be former spouse just can't see eye to eye. In these instances, family arbitration may be a potential solution, but both of you must first agree to the process in writing after determining all of your contentious issues. You and your soon-to-be ex must also have first received legal advice before being allowed to proceed forward.

Coming to an agreement with an arbitrator is much less formal and may be less anxiety-inducing than ironing out issues in a court room. During the arbitration process, an arbitrator will work with you and your spouse – within the confines of family law – to try to come to an agreement for all issues that you were not able to settle on your own, and any decisions made by the arbitrator regarding your children must always reflect what is in their best interests.

What happens during the arbitration process?

During this time, you and your spouse will be able to tell your sides of the story. The following items can all apply to the family arbitration process:

  • An arbitrator can't grant a divorce or an annulment
  • An arbitrator can help a couple make decisions on such issues as child or spousal support, division of property, and child custody
  • Witnesses can offer evidence on both sides
  • Any decisions made must be incorporated into an arbitration agreement

Selecting the proper arbitrator for your case

The arbitrator is the key player in helping you and your spouse come to an agreement, so enlisting someone who has the adequate credentials for the job is crucial. He or she should be fair, unbiased and competent, and both you and your spouse should agree on the choice. Your arbitrator should have adequate experience with family law in Ontario, and must have the ability to screen for domestic violence and scenarios that include power imbalances. This individual could be a lawyer, accountant or businessperson, depending upon your specific needs.

Arbitration may be the best way for a couple to turn a dispute into a resolution. An experienced lawyer can evaluate all of your circumstances to help determine if family arbitration is the best means for you to proceed forward, and if so, can help guide you through this process, increasing your odds of receiving the best possible outcome for your circumstances and moving on toward a brighter future.  

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