When a couple cannot resolve one or more issues through negotiations they may appoint a qualified person to make decisions for them. The person appointed to make the decision is a called an arbitrator under the Arbitration Act of Alberta. He or she is effectively your private judge.
In a family law case, an Arbitrator can make virtually the same decisions as a Judge. In effect, the arbitrator’s decision or “Award” becomes a Court Order.
One of the main advantages of arbitration is that you are able to have more influence over who will make these important decisions since you cannot choose your judge in court. Although judges are often skilled and wise, many have no specialized experience in the family law world. With the help of your lawyer you can choose an arbitrator with many years of experience in family law.
While court proceedings are usually open to the public, offering little or no privacy to parties involved, arbitration can be much more private. In fact, arbitration can happen in the privacy of your lawyer’s office.
Additionally, arbitration rules and processes can often be less formal than court proceedings and parties can choose their own rules.
As with a mediator, the parties normally share the cost of the arbitrator whose hourly rate will be comparable to that of most lawyers’ hourly rates. In many cases private arbitration will cost parties less than litigation.
Whether formal or informal, the arbitration process usually takes place at a lawyer’s office and typically includes the presentation of evidence (testimony, documents, etc.) and a summary by the parties’ lawyers of their client’s position and arguments.
Get in touch to see if arbitration is right for you.