In family law or divorce arbitration, the parties hire a mutually agreed upon third party who is family law practitioner with at least ten years of practice experience who has also qualified as a family law arbitrator. Arbitration has long been the dispute resolution option of choice in British Columbia labour and employment law contexts; however, its use in the family law context is relatively new.
Essentially, when you elect to pursue arbitration, you and your former spouse agree who you will grant the authority to make binding decisions about the issues you bring to them, instead of appearing before a randomly assigned judge. Many participants prefer this ability to decide who the decision-maker will be for decisions that affect their day to day life so intimately, and to ensure that they will have the same decision-maker at each stage of the process.
An arbitration also provides much greater control by the parties over the pace and scheduling of proceedings, and prevents the airing of any private and personal matters in public courtrooms. Despite the fact that the parties will share the increased costs of paying the arbitrator, the increased control over pace, scheduling, and decision-maker consistency can lead to savings in legal fees that greatly exceed the costs of the arbitrator.
In many other ways, an arbitration operates in much the same way as a court case. Each party will give evidence, both through the submission of documents and the calling of witnesses, and many of the same rules of evidence apply. Arguments on the law are also submitted, and the arbitrator is expected to decide in accordance with the law. Parties participating in an arbitration are typically represented by counsel to argue their position on the matters at issue. The decisions of the arbitrator are binding upon you, much like a court’s decisions, and once the process begins you must continue to participate in the process.
For more information on family law and divorce arbitration or other options for divorce or separation in British Columbia, we welcome you to contact Candid Legal for a consultation. Based in Nanaimo, we work with clients throughout Vancouver Island, British Columbia.