1. Think about your options

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Family Law - Property and debts ‑ married couples
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CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
Ministry of the Attorney General
Ministry of the Attorney General

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We're married. What if we can't agree on what happens to our property and debts after we separate or divorce?
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1. Think about your options

There are family law professionals who can help you and your partner resolve your issues. These are neutral people who are trained to work with both of you to help you reach an agreement or make a decision for you.

Family law professionals work in:

All of these processes are sometimes called alternative dispute resolution (ADR) because they help you solve your issues without going to court. Deciding which process is best for you depends on your situation and what you want. For example, a mediator doesn't make decisions for you, but an arbitrator does.

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 where:

  • There is a history of partner abuse, mental illness, or drug abuse.
  • You can't talk to your partner.
  • You can't work cooperatively with your partner.

Each family court location in Ontario offers subsidized mediation services. You can get up to 8 hours of mediation for a fee that is based on each person's income. You can use this service whether or not your have a court case. And if you have a court case, you can get up to 2 hours of mediation for free at the court.

You can also find mediators who offer their services at lower rates through JusticeNet. JusticeNet is a not-for-profit that helps people in Ontario whose income is too high to get legal aid and too low to afford standard legal fees.

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Reviewed: July 31, 2017

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