Arbitration and Mediation

Our goal is to help you come to a quick and agreeable divorce settlement. In some cases, there are particular issues and agreements that are not easily identified and consensus cannot be reached with divorce mediation alone.

Our Calgary divorce lawyers are well equipped to take matters to court to fight for you and your rights but it is often quicker and more cost effective to settle your divorce out of court.

Reaching a mutual consensus on all issues can be very difficult during divorce. When divorcing parties have issues that they cannot reach an agreement on, they will involve a third-party who can help a resolution be found that satisfies everyone.


Mediation is a great way to reduce the cost and the emotional toll of a divorce. A neutral mediator works with both parties to find a resolution that satisfies everyone.

Working with a mediator is voluntary. Recommendations and suggestions made by a mediator are not legally binding and a mediator cannot force either party to settle the dispute or accept a particular solution. Many people find that working with a mediator helps to ease tension and encourage discussion between divorcing parties.

If you have a support dispute that you want to take to court you will be required by the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench to complete one hour of mediation before the application will be considered. The cost of this is shared between both parties.


Arbitration falls between meeting a mutual consensus (mediation) and taking it to court (litigation). In arbitration, a neutral third party (the arbitrator) is typically selected with the consent of both parties, hears the evidence on any issues the couple would like to address, and then makes a legally binding decision based on that evidence.

One of the benefits of arbitration vs. litigation is that you get to choose your arbitrator, whereas you will not have the opportunity to choose your judge in court.

What is divorce arbitration?

Arbitration is a dispute resolution method in which the two conflicting parties select an impartial third party to make a decision. The third party listens to the facts and arguments, then makes a decision as to how the issues in the dispute will be resolved.

Why do couples choose divorce arbitration instead of litigation?

It is more time and cost effective to keep your divorce out of court. You also have the advantage of being able to choose your arbitrator, whereas you will not have the opportunity to choose your judge if your divorce enters litigation.

What authority does a family law arbitrator have?

When both sides agree on an arbitrator, that person becomes your Justice, Judge, and Master in Chambers. They are granted the jurisdiction to be the sole decision maker for the issues set out in the arbitration agreement and their decision is binding.

What are the steps of divorce arbitration?

Arbitration procedures have the following sequence of events:

  1. Selecting the arbitrator
  2. Drafting the terms of the arbitration agreement
  3. Scheduling the time and location of the hearing
  4. Preparation for the hearing (including preparing the witnesses)
  5. Presenting the evidence at the hearing (including examination and cross-examination of witnesses)
  6. Making submissions to the arbitrator at the end of the hearing
  7. Arbitrator makes a decision, called the Arbitration Award

While an arbitration hearing has some of the look and feel of a court trial, the arbitration process is more informal than a court trial. Arbitration generally involves fewer, if any, pre-hearing matters that often prolong court proceedings.

Do I need to hire a divorce lawyer if I’m using an arbitrator?

While it is not mandatory to have a divorce lawyer if you’re using an arbitrator, it is still recommended. You will need to present legal evidence to the arbitrator and make sure that your case is supported. If you do not have legal counsel and the other party does, you will be at a disadvantage. A divorce lawyer and family law professional will ensure that your argument is backed with evidence, giving you the best chance at your desired outcome.

Does the divorce arbitrator need to be a lawyer?

While it can be very helpful for your arbitrator to have a solid legal background, your arbitrator does not necessarily have to be a lawyer. For cases where the dispute involves the welfare of children, you may find a mental health professional, social worker, or psychologist to be best equipped to arbitrate your dispute.

Is divorce arbitration confidential?

Yes. Your arguments, counter-arguments, and evidence will be in a private setting and is confidential. However, if the decisions from your arbitration are not upheld and your case is taken to court, parts of your arbitration proceedings may become public as they are reviewed and considered in the courts.

How long does arbitration take?

Your case complexity – including the number of witnesses, the number of issues being addressed, etc. – will affect how long the divorce arbitration process will take. Usually, an arbitration hearing can take place within a few weeks and is quicker than going to court.

How much does divorce arbitration cost?

Divorce arbitration costs less than divorce litigation in most cases. The actual cost of divorce arbitration depends on how long the hearing takes, the hourly costs of your arbitrator, and your legal fees. Your arbitrator can order that the costs of arbitration be paid by one or the other party.

Is an arbitration outcome legally binding?

The outcome of divorce arbitration is called the “Arbitration Award”. Except for very limited circumstances, arbitration awards may not be appealed. Arbitration awards hold the same power as a Court Order and are final.

I’m enjoying my new home, and am thankful that we moved quickly on this divorce. I think back to when he was asking for more lines of credit a year ago and you said to serve him. I fear I may have had nothing left if this had gone on for a longer time. Thank you, Diana, for your help and guidance on this messy situation. ...Read More

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