If you have a family court date coming up, you may be feeling overwhelmed with emotions, such as, anxiety, depression, and anger. These feelings are not always necessary. Going to court, is not always necessary. Make sure you know what other options you have a available to you. Hart Legal family lawyers have experience in family negotiations and Alternative Dispute Resolutions ("ADR").

Here are a few ways you can settle your matter, without going to court. Make sure you ask your Hart Legal family lawyer how to proceed with each option:

Negotiations / 4-Way Meeting:

Before you retain a lawyer, you should always try and negotiate between yourself and your spouse (without lawyers).  If the negotiation with your spouse does not go well, the parties, with their lawyers, may start a process called a 4-Way Meeting, prior to initiating court proceedings. HART Legal has a team of lawyers that can help you prepare for a 4-way meeting. This is the most cost-effective way to settle your family law dispute. The 4-Way meeting can be anywhere from one hour, to a full day meeting. Depending on how negotiations are going, your Hart Legal lawyer will advise you if you are on a path to resolution, or if you should call it a day. 

Mediation:

Family Mediation in family law is another method of an alternative dispute resolution where the parties retain a neutral third-party professional to assist them in reaching an agreement. The purpose of mediation is to assist the parties in accepting their situation, understand the other parties’ position, and try to reach an agreement. The mediator’s role is to listen to the parties and assist them in reaching their own agreement. They cannot force the parties to reach an agreement or make any decisions for the parties. Hart Legal  family law lawyers work with mediators on a daily basis. We attend family mediation with our clients with the expectation to settle your family law matter. However, there are times where mediation fails. This is usually due to the parties not willing to compromise, hostility between the parties, non-disclosure, or even your lawyer not having the proper mediation skills necessary to negotiate. Hart Legal lawyers are constantly being trained in negotiations and mediations. 

Arbitration:

Arbitration is a procedure where the parties agree to appoint a neutral third-party person to make a decision on their issues (sometime this can be the same person as the Mediator). In arbitration, the steps are similar to a trial and the arbitrator is similar to a judge. The parties will make submissions and present evidence; the arbitrator will make a binding decision, just like a Judge. There are a few benefits to this:

a.  the parties get to choose their arbitrator – you cannot pick your judge. Hart Legal family lawyers work with certain Arbitrators within BC and Calgary, we can help you find an arbitrator whom will be best for your family matter;

b.  the cost of arbitration is typically cheaper than going to a family law trial; and

c.  scheduling an arbitration can happen sooner, than a trial. Trial times are scheduled by the court, and require advance notice and various pleadings to be filed to secure your trial. Scheduling an arbitration is very easy, and is on the arbitrators schedule.

There are various ways to settle your family law matter outside of court. As well, there can sometimes be risks associated with using one of these methods instead of proceeding to court. However, alternative methods often offer a more satisfactory result for our clients. HART Legal can provide you with information about any of these ADR methods mentioned. HART Legal's family law lawyers  provide FREE initial consultations. We offer family law legal services in Victoria, BC, Vancouver, BC, as well as, Calgary, Alberta. We are also able to offer our family law services throughout British Columbia and Alberta. You can text us at, 778-760-1717(BC) 587-410-7443(AB) or email us at info@hart-legal.com, to schedule your free family law consultation with one of our best family law lawyers.

Want to learn about parenting arrangements? Check out our previous blog!

*HART Legal has additional offices in California operated by a separate law corporation.