If you and your partner can't agree on what should happen, you can get help from a family law professional to work through your issues or make a decision for you. You can ask for this help at any time – when trying to resolve things on your own, making a separation agreement, or going through the court process.
Family law professionals use different ways, or processes, to help resolve issues. These processes are sometimes called alternative dispute resolution methods (ADR). This is because they are options other than going to court. Some of these processes are:
Some of the reasons to use ADR instead of going to court are:
- You have more control over what happens to your case.
- It can be faster and cheaper.
- It can be less stressful.
- It takes place in a private setting.
But, there are some situations where it may be better not to use ADR, such as:
- you are afraid of your partner because of a history of partner abuse
- there are serious mental health or drug abuse issues
- you can't talk to your partner even with help
- you can't work together with your partner even with help
Sometimes, even in these situations, a family law professional can work in a way to make the process fair and safe for you.
Legal Aid Ontario services
Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has the following services to help people who mostly agree on what should happen after they separate:
Family Mediation Program
This mediation service is free if you or your partner’s income is low enough. Mediators help with issues of custody, access, parenting plans, travel and vacation plans, parent communication, and child support.
Independent Legal Advice (ILA) Program
This ILA service provides up to 6 hours of independent legal advice if you’re a mediation client and if you or your partner’s income is low enough. You can get advice from a lawyer about the mediation process and your legal options, and help with preparing for mediation. The lawyer can also help you get a court order to enforce the terms of the mediation agreement.
Separation Agreement Program