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What is arbitration?

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What is arbitration?
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What is arbitration?
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Reviewed: 
March 1, 2021
Answer

Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution process (ADR), also called family dispute resolution process, where you and your partner meet with an arbitrator to resolve your legal issues without going to court.

In family law, you must think about trying ADR 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

Arbitration is voluntary. This means that you and your partner have to agree to work with an arbitrator. You cannot be forced to use arbitration, or forced to agree on your issues.

A family law arbitrator is a person with special training. Many arbitrators are lawyers. They could also be other professionals, like psychologists, with special family law training.

If you and your partner cannot agree, your arbitrator decides your issues. Their decision is called a family arbitration award.

There are laws about how arbitration must happen. The law says that you have to get independent legal advice (ILA) if you use arbitration to resolve your issues.

Your lawyer doesn't have to go to arbitration with you. They can advise you on:

  • how the law applies to your situation
  • your arbitration agreement, which is discussed in Step 4

The law also says you and your partner must be screened to make sure that the arbitration can be fair and safe. This is discussed in Step 3.

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