Alternatives to family arbitration

There are a number of options available to resolve family disputes. One person may simply discuss the dispute with the other, with or without lawyers. There are lawyers trained in collaborative law, a particular process for resolving family law disputes through negotiation outside of court. More information about collaborative family law is available from the Ontario Collaborative Law Federation.

The parties may have an impartial person come in and discuss the dispute with them and suggest ways of resolving it. That person would be a mediator, who has no power to impose a binding decision.

There is a range of informal methods using an impartial person that could be designed to advise or suggest a solution that everyone may accept.

In some cases, the person with the dispute may go directly to court to enforce his or her rights.

If one person has been subject to physical violence or other abuse in the relationship, it may not be possible for that person to participate effectively in negotiation or even mediation, or particular safeguards may be needed.

In some cases, taking the dispute to court is the best way to an appropriate outcome. There are also some kinds of disputes that only a court can decide, such as granting a divorce or making a declaration of parenthood.