New Mandatory Early Dispute Resolution Legislation
As of July 1st, 2022, Saskatchewan partners looking to separate are required to go through a mandatory early dispute resolution process. While this may sound like adding another step to an already painful, emotional process, it’s a good move for everyone.
Ensuring that separating families use one of the available early dispute resolution options will help parents reach more amicable decisions outside of a court room. This helps to not only reduce the costs of a separation, but also saves the parties a great deal of stress and time.
“Mandatory dispute resolution empowers families to address issues before they go to court,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre said after the announcement. “This program, implemented as a pilot in Prince Albert in 2020 and Regina in 2021, has been effective in reducing the financial and emotional impacts of separation and divorce on families and their children.”
While mediation is one of the best options for families, there are other early dispute resolution options that the Government of Saskatchewan recommends:
1) Collaborative Law Process
Collaborative law involves parties and their lawyers working together, negotiating in good faith, to reach a settlement of all issues.
2) Family Law Arbitration
Family law arbitrators play a role similar to that of a judge. They are able to make binding decisions to resolve family law disputes using processes that are more informal than court.
3) Family Mediation
Family mediators help parties resolve family issues and find solutions through an interest-based problem-solving process.
4) Parent Coordination
Parent coordinators help parties resolve small disputes over existing agreements and orders, such as who has parenting time during summer holidays. Parenting coordinators do not create or change parenting arrangements.
So, what does this mean for you? This new legislation doesn’t mean that family disputes can’t be handled in court, it simply means that a more collaborative option needs to be explored first. In many cases, the lawyers, mediators, or parent coordinators will be able to help the parties come to a mutually beneficial parental agreement. In rare cases however, separating families may still need the courts to decide what their agreement looks like moving forward; and that’s okay!
Making sure that families at least try to reach a separation agreement in a collaborative manner is a step in the right direction and will help save a lot of time, money, and stress for all involved.
For more information on this new legislation, check out the Government of Saskatchewan’s Early Family Dispute Resolution page here, or contact John Hewson at TCM Mediation Studio here.
Artwork by Megan Hewson. View her work at https://www.instagram.com/megheworiginals/