Arbitrators play a private judge-like role. A family law arbitrator will make binding decisions to resolve family law issues out of court.
Arbitration is not a collaborative process. If you decide to settle your family law issues through arbitration, you are asking another person to make the decisions for you, after hearing both sides.
Sometimes arbitrators will use a combination of arbitration and collaborative processes, like negotiation or mediation. You can decide how you want your arbitration setup. Everyone must agree in writing to the rules that will apply before the arbitration proceeds.
Any decision made by a family law arbitrator must be consistent with the Family Law Act. You cannot opt out of the law.
Because of the decision-making role of an arbitrator, family law arbitrators must meet high training and practice standards.
Starting Jan. 1, 2014 all family law arbitrators must meet Family Law Act minimum training and practice standards. They must be a lawyer, psychologist or social worker, have at least 10 years experience in a family-related field and take specified training in arbitration, family law, decision-making, skills development, and family violence. Some arbitrators belong to organizations which already have similar standards. Before hiring an arbitrator, it is a good idea to ask about their qualifications.
Only an arbitrator who is a lawyer may conduct arbitrations on all family law issues, including child-related issues, property and spousal support.
An arbitrator who is a psychologist or a social worker may only arbitrate child-related issues and straightforward child support.
Finding an arbitrator
- Contact the British Columbia Arbitration and Mediation Institute.
- The Canadian Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service may be able to refer you to a lawyer who is a family law arbitrator.