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Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) refers to processes that try to resolve issues without proceeding to court. These processes can be cheaper, faster and less acrimonious than going to court.

Mediation, arbitration and collaborative family law are examples of common ADR processes.


Mediation is a voluntary process where a mediator assists parties reach a settlement. In family law, mediation can assist parties resolve division of property, support, custody and access issues. A mediator is a neutral third party who does not have the authority to render a decision and cannot grant spouses a divorce. If a voluntary settlement is reached, it will only be binding if turned into a legal separation agreement.

Mediation tends to be successful when spouses are amicable, willing and able to communicate effectively with each other. Mediation gives spouses the ability to craft a settlement based on their terms, and not have one imposed on them by the courts.

Mediation is not appropriate where there has been domestic violence or there is large power imbalance.


Arbitration is a voluntary process where parties meet with an arbitrator to resolve their issues. Parties must consent to arbitration and agree to forgo their right to court litigation.  Unlike a mediator, an arbitrator has the authority to make binding decision subject to agreed upon rights of appeal.

Screening is an important step in family arbitration. Screening helps ensure both parties are willfully consenting to the arbitration and determines if there are domestic violence or mental health issues which require safeguards be put in place. After screening, parties sign an arbitration agreement which establishes the issues, who will arbitrate, and when, where and how the arbitration will be conducted.

There are several advantages of family arbitration. For one, it is private and confidential unlike a court case. The process tends to be much faster than going to court nor do you have to follow the procedural formalities of court. Further, arbitration tends to less expensive than court.

Why Gilbertson Davis LLP?

When you come to Gilbertson Davis LLP, we will take time to explain the advantages and disadvantages of each form of alternative dispute resolution to you to determine which process best fits your specific needs. We offer advise and represent clients throughout the meditation,  arbitration and collaborative practice.

Contact us for an initial consultation.

This page contains general legal information only and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice for your unique situation. If you require legal advice, please request an initial consultation with Gilbertson Davis LLP using the Request Consultation Form on this webpage or by contacting our Intake Coordinator on (416) 979-2020, ext. 223 (both subject to the Terms of Use described on our Contact page).