Choosing a family arbitrator

  • Choose an arbitrator who has professional credentials and experience, either as a family lawyer or as a specialist in dispute resolution, or both. Not all lawyers know about arbitration practice just because they are lawyers.
  • Ask a potential arbitrator what his or her credentials are and about his or her experience.
  • The arbitrator should be someone that both sides trust to be fair, competent and diligent.
  • Any family arbitrator should know enough Ontario law (or the law of the other Canadian jurisdiction that is to apply to the dispute) so that he or she can apply it to the issues in dispute. The family arbitrator should also know about arbitration procedures and practices.
  • Arbitrators who are not lawyers will be required (as of April 30, 2008) to have some training in Ontario family law. They should also have experience with the arbitration process, and know how to conduct an arbitration and to make reasoned decisions based on the facts and arguments presented to them.
  • Family arbitrators must have training in screening parties for domestic violence and power imbalances.
  • The ADR Institute of Ontario maintains a list of arbitrators who have been accredited by their organization, and can be searched by location and area of expertise, including family law.
  • In disputes about custody of and access to children, an appropriate arbitrator might be a parenting coordinator. Parenting coordinators are often members of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, The College of Psychologists of Ontario or the Ontario Association for Family Mediation, any of which may have a list of members who do this kind of work.
  • If the main issue in dispute is financial, you might want an accountant or businessperson as the arbitrator.

Arbitrators are not regulated in Ontario. However, if an arbitrator does not follow the rules in the statutes and the regulation, then his or her award may not be enforceable in court. Depending on the rule not followed, either side involved in the dispute could ask a court to set aside the arbitrator's award.