Mandatory Alternative Dispute Resolution in Family Matters

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In Spring 2018, Bill 97, The Arbitration (Family Dispute Resolution) Amendment Act, 2017 and Bill 98, The Miscellaneous (Family Dispute Resolution) Amendment Act, 2017 were passed in the Legislative Assembly. The Acts added provisions to The Children’s Law Act, 1997, The Family Maintenance Act, 1997, The Family Property Act and The Queen’s Bench Act, 1998 to recognize and promote early dispute resolution. The Acts also added provisions to The Arbitration Act, 1992 to facilitate the use of arbitration in family law disputes.   

The amendments to The Queen’s Bench Act, 1998 will require parties in certain family law proceedings to make efforts to resolve disputes through an approved dispute resolution process before proceeding with the court process.

If parties have not already participated in dispute resolution prior to filing court pleadings, they must do so before moving ahead with the court process. The amendments provide that the following processes fall within the definition of “family dispute resolution”: the services of a family mediator, family arbitrator or parenting coordinator, other collaborative law services or any other process or service prescribed.

Regulations setting out the training and experience required to be a family arbitrator or parenting coordinator for the purpose of meeting the mandatory ADR requirement came into force on July 15, 2019, together with the applicable amendments to The Children’s Law Act, 1997, The Family Maintenance Act, 1997, and The Arbitration Act. The ministry has been receiving applications from individuals who wish to be recognized as a family arbitrator or parent coordinator. Members of the public may choose to use, or be ordered to use, a parent coordinator or family arbitrator as of July 22, 2019. Note that the requirement to use a family dispute resolution service before proceeding with a court application is not yet in force. The Ministry of Justice and Attorney General is preparing regulations setting out the training and experience required to be a family mediator and collaborative lawyer for the purpose of meeting the requirements of the new legislation. Once these Regulations are finalized, they will be brought into force along with the mandatory ADR requirement set out in the amending legislation. The mandatory ADR requirement will be piloted in one judicial centre before it is expanded province-wide.  

If you have any questions, please contact Itee Umoh at Itemobong.umoh@gov.sk.ca.

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