If you and your partner can't agree on what should happen, you must think about using alternative dispute resolution (ADR) or a family dispute resolution process to resolve your issues out of court if it's suitable for you. ADR might not be right for you if:
- one person is afraid of another person because there is a history of family violence
- there are serious mental health or drug abuse issues
But sometimes, even in these situations, a family law professional can work in a way to make the process fair and safe for you.
Family law professional are people who are trained to help you reach an agreement or make a decision for you by using an ADR process. Deciding which process is best for you depends on the facts of your situation and what you want. For example, a mediator doesn't make decisions for you, but an arbitrator does.
Some of the reasons to use ADR instead of going to court are:
- You have more control over what happens.
- It can be faster and cheaper.
- It can be less stressful.
- It takes place in a private setting.
A family law professional can help at any time – when trying to resolve things on your own, making a separation agreement, or going through the court process.
To encourage you to try ADR, starting August 1, 2021, if you and your partner have tried family mediation, a judge can allow you to move directly to a combined case conference and settlement conference. A judge can only do this when you and your partner have:
- been screened for power imbalances and domestic violence
- shared financial statements
- filed a completed Form 17G: Certificate of Dispute Resolution
- no outstanding motions for temporary orders
And depending on when you tried mediation, you may also be able to skip your first court date or meeting with a Dispute Resolution Officer.
To prepare for a combined conference, fill out the forms required for a settlement conference. If the judge hasn’t already combined the conferences, you or your partner can ask for this by bringing a Form 14B: Motion.