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Why Has Mediation/Arbitration Become So Popular In Divorce Cases?  

By | - January 5, 2024

Steve Benmor is a recognized divorce lawyer, family mediator, arbitrator, speaker, writer and educator. Mr. Benmor has worked as lead counsel in many divorce trials, held many leadership positions in the legal community and has been regularly interviewed on television, radio and in newspapers as an expert in Family Law.

Spouses who are undergoing separation and divorce are often living in very uncomfortable circumstances. While their family life is falling apart, they still need to manage their children’s lives, their work lives and their financial obligations. Each and every day that the details of their separation are not resolved creates undue anguish to them and their children. For them, the speed of resolution is just as important as the resolution itself.

Mediation/arbitration offers benefits that no other legal process can match. 

The spouses mutually choose their mediator/arbitrator, based on the professional’s expertise, experience, specialization, and, more importantly, their availability. This is to be compared with Divorce Court where the spouses may be required to wait for many months or years in order to have their case heard and resolved, and the judge assigned to their case may be different on every court date and include a judge who has no familiarity whatsoever in family law. 

The mediator/arbitrator will develop a relationship with the spouses to better understand their case, their history, their fears and their aspirations for resolution. There may be multiple sessions, either individually or together. This does not occur in Divorce Court where there is no relationship or rapport formed with a judge who is limited in time and an understanding of the case.  The spouses will often meet a different judge on each court date, months apart, who has no familiarity with the family or the issues to be resolved. Worse than that, each consecutive judge will now know what the previous judge thought about the case.  This creates frustration, delay and confusion.

In terms of cost, although the mediator/arbitrator is paid privately by the spouses, the cost savings are far greater than in Divorce Court because every hour paid for is an hour used by the mediator/arbitrator to actively resolve the case. In Divorce Court, there are many hours wasted by transportation, stringent rules for the filing of prescribed court forms, misfiled court documents, court backlogs and systematic delays.

The most prominent feature of mediation/arbitration is the focus on the preservation of the relationships in the family. The documents prepared and filed in mediation/arbitration are focussed on resolution and providing the mediator arbitrator with the necessary information to be able to find common ground, provide neutral evaluation, and settle matters on consent. Where an agreement is not possible, then the mediator/arbitrator can conduct an arbitration hearing and render decisions speedily that are binding on the spouses.

This is to be compared with Divorce Court where the very first step in the court proceeding is for one spouse to initiate the court process by paying a lawyer thousands of dollars to prepare and file pleadings, to then be followed by the other spouse doing the same, where each party lists all of the accusations, allegations and blame against the other spouse. The exchange of such hostilities is the very first step in a court case that can take many months and, often times, sets a very acrimonious tone that invites growing hostility. All in all, divorce litigation often creates further family conflict, unforgiveable resentment and permanently damaged relationships.

The many benefits of mediation/arbitration include faster speed, lower cost, subject matter expertise and confidentiality (court proceedings are public record). The mediator/arbitrator plays a key role delivering those benefits and making the process more efficient and effective than going to court.

Spouses in Ontario are very fortunate to have access to many experienced divorce mediator/arbitrators who provide separating spouses with expertise, fairness and, most importantly, a complete divorce settlement.  

If you are interested in avoiding Divorce Court and coming to a successful settlement through Family Mediation, then visit the following link https://benmor.com/mediation-more/ and/or contact my Senior Law Clerk Marigona at 416-489-8890 or marigona@benmor.com to begin the path to a successful divorce settlement.

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