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Family Arbitration

In family law arbitration, family arbitrators play a role similar to that of a judge. A family arbitrator can 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 they have heard both sides.

Sometimes arbitrators use a combination of different dispute resolution processes, including negotiation and/or mediation. You can decide how you want your arbitration set up. For example, parties may decide that they will only file written submissions rather than give oral testimony, or that they should not have lawyers present. Everyone must agree in writing to the rules that will apply before the arbitration process begins. Typically, arbitration processes are less formal than court proceedings and they are usually faster. They are also private; no one from the public can attend arbitration or see a copy of the decision.

Any decision made by a family arbitrator must be consistent with The Children's Law Act, 1997, The Family Maintenance Act, 1997, The Family Property Act, and The Divorce Act. You cannot opt out of the law.

Because of the decision-making role of an arbitrator, family arbitrators must meet high training and practice standards. They must be a lawyer with at least 10 years' experience in a family related field and take specific training in arbitration, family law, decision-making, skills development and family violence. Some arbitrators belong to organizations that already have similar standards. Before hiring an arbitrator, it is a good idea to ask about their qualifications.

Parties who decide to proceed with family arbitration should discuss fees with the arbitrator and determine how the parties will split the cost of arbitration between them.

If you would like to find a family arbitrator, a contact list is available. (If you experience problems opening this document, please download or open with Internet Explorer.)

Exclusively in Prince Albert (effective January 1, 2020) and Regina (effective March 1, 2021) until further notice – most family law matters that come to family court will be required to attempt a family dispute resolution process before they will be able to continue with any further court proceedings.

Information for Lawyers Interested in Becoming Family Arbitrators

If you are a lawyer who is interested in being recognized by the Minister as a family arbitrator for the purposes of the Act, send your resume and cover letter to Kim Newsham at kim.newsham@gov.sk.ca or 306-787-2599.

Your resume and/or cover letter should address the requirements set out in The Arbitration Regulations. You must:

  • be a member of the Law Society of Saskatchewan in good standing;
  • have completed 40-hour arbitration training;
  • have 10 years of family-law related practice;
  • have 14 hours of family violence training.

Note that each year, six hours of continuing professional development relating to the practice of family arbitration are required.

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