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What Is Arbitration and How Does It Work in Ontario Divorces?

Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution process that can be used in Ontario divorces. In arbitration, a neutral third party, the arbitrator, hears evidence from both parties and makes a decision, which is binding on the parties. Unlike mediation, where the mediator helps the parties come to an agreement, the arbitrator makes a decision for the parties.

Arbitration is often faster and more flexible than going to court and can be less expensive, but it is not for everyone. In this article, we will explain what arbitration is, how it works in Ontario divorces, and what you should consider before choosing arbitration as your dispute resolution process.

What is arbitration in Ontario divorces?

Arbitration is a private and confidential dispute resolution process in which the parties involved choose a neutral third party, known as an arbitrator, to hear evidence and make a decision. In Ontario, the Arbitration Act, 1991 governs the process of arbitration. Family law disputes that can be resolved through arbitration include issues related to child custody (Decision-making responsibility) , support, and property division.

How does arbitration work in Ontario divorces?

The arbitration process begins with the parties agreeing to use arbitration as their dispute resolution process. The parties must sign an agreement to arbitrate that outlines the issues to be decided, the name of the arbitrator, and the rules that will govern the arbitration. Once the agreement is signed, the arbitration process begins, and the arbitrator will set a date and location for the hearing.

During the hearing, the parties present their evidence, including witnesses and documents, to the arbitrator, who then makes a decision based on the facts presented. The decision is binding on the parties and can be enforced by the court.

Why choose arbitration over going to court?

Arbitration can be a more efficient and cost-effective alternative to going to court. The parties can choose the arbitrator, the location, and the date of the hearing, which can save time and money. Additionally, arbitration can be less formal than going to court, which can make the process less stressful for the parties.

What are the drawbacks of arbitration?

One of the drawbacks of arbitration is that the parties give up their right to a trial by a judge and must accept the arbitrator’s decision, even if they disagree with it. Additionally, arbitration can be more expensive than mediation, and the parties must pay for the arbitrator’s time and expenses.

How do you choose an arbitrator?

Choosing the right arbitrator is crucial for a successful arbitration. The parties should look for an arbitrator who is knowledgeable in family law, experienced in arbitration, and has a good reputation. Additionally, the parties should consider the arbitrator’s availability, location, and fees.

How do you start an arbitration in Ontario?

To start an arbitration in Ontario, the parties must sign an agreement to arbitrate. The agreement should include the issues to be decided, the name of the arbitrator, and the rules that will govern the arbitration. The parties can either hire an arbitrator or ask a family law arbitrator organization to appoint an arbitrator for them.

What happens after the arbitration?

After the arbitrator makes a decision, the parties must comply with the decision. If one of the parties does not comply, the other party can go to court to enforce the decision. Additionally, the parties can choose to appeal the decision, but the grounds for appeal are limited. The decision of the arbitrator is final, and the parties cannot appeal on the basis of factual or legal errors made by the arbitrator, except in limited circumstances.

In summary, arbitration can be a viable alternative to going to court for resolving family law disputes. It is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of arbitration before choosing this process, and to carefully select an arbitrator who is qualified and experienced in family law arbitration.