John-Paul Boyd Arbitration Chambers


About Family Law Mediation & Arbitration


Family law disputes are about parenting after separation, paying child support and spousal support, dividing property, dividing debt and other legal issues that come up after a couple has separated.

There are four ways to resolve family law disputes, five if you count walking away. Negotiation is a bargaining process where the people involved, the parties, try to work out a solution to the dispute with or without the help of lawyers. Mediation is a bargaining process where the parties try to work out a solution with the help of a neutral stranger, a mediator, who helps them identify interests and potential areas of compromise. Litigation is an adversarial process where the parties ask a neutral stranger, a judge, to make a decision for them. Arbitration is a lot like litigation, except that the neutral stranger is an arbitrator and the process is usually faster and less expensive.

This page talks about two of these processes, mediation and arbitration. You can read about the other services provided by John-Paul Boyd Arbitration Chambers in the Independent Legal Advice and Children’s Services page.


In mediation, the parties work with a neutral third party, a mediator, to reach an agreement that deals with all or some of the issues in dispute. Mediation is not therapy or couples counselling; it is a legal process intended to help resolve a legal dispute without going to court.

Mediation is a private, cooperative negotiation process. Both parties must be willing to work together and each must be prepared to give a little and take a little, and understand that neither of them is going to get everything they want. However, because the process is aimed at a shared goal, a settlement of the legal issues, there is usually a lot less of the bitterness and conflict that goes along with mediation.

The mediator’s job is to support and encourage the parties’ negotiations, to provide a neutral perspective on the legal issues, and to help ensure that any settlement is reasonably fair to all concerned, including the children. The mediator has no stake the result of the mediation, and should have no bias in favour of one party over the other. The mediator’s position as a neutral third-party is probably the mediator’s most important role. It allows the mediator to be absolutely frank with each of the parties, and to point out when someone’s expectations are unrealistic or unfair.

The mediator, however, does not have the power to impose a settlement on the parties. The mediator cannot make decisions about the legal issues, only help the parties to make decisions for themselves.

Mediation is well-suited to family law disputes because it is the parties who make the decisions. Although it can be hard work, a resolution that people work out for themselves tends to last a lot longer than a resolution imposed on them by a judge or an arbitrator. There’s usually a lot less anger and resentment, and people are often better able to resolve new problems when they come up in the future.


Arbitration is also well-suited to family law disputes. Arbitration is a private process, just like mediation, but the big difference is that instead of the parties working together to find a resolution, they agree that the arbitrator will find a resolution for them. Through their agreement to arbitrate, the parties agree that they will be legally bound by the arbitrator’s decision.

Although arbitration is a lot like litigation, it has some really important differences.

First, it is private and confidential. No documents will be filed in the court’s records and the hearings are closed to the public.

Secondly, the parties can pick the person who will resolve their family law dispute. This lets people pick someone who is an expert in family law, and specifically an expert in the legal problems that are most important in their family law dispute.

Thirdly, the rules that guide the arbitration process are flexible. They can be adapted to the specific circumstances of the parties, their legal issues and their finances. Even the rules of evidence, which are very strict when litigating, can be adapted to suit the needs of the parties and the nature of their dispute.

The arbitrator’s job is to provide an independent perspective on the legal issues, hear each person’s view of the evidence and the law, and decide the legal issues in a fair way. The arbitrator has no stake the result of the arbitration, and should have no bias in favour of one party over the other. The arbitrator, as a neutral third-party, will be absolutely frank with each of the parties, and will point out when someone’s expectations are unrealistic or unfair.

The privacy it offers, the opportunity to hire an arbitrator who is expert in the issues in a family law dispute and the way that the rules of procedure and rules of evidence can be customized, make arbitration an ideal way to resolve family law disputes when settlement through negotiation or mediation isn’t possible.

Mediation and arbitration with John-Paul Boyd Arbitration Chambers

Family law disputes affect people, not companies. Most of the time, the people involved in the dispute have relationships that will continue long after their romantic relationship has ended, especially if they have children. As a result, John-Paul Boyd Arbitration Chambers will, in most cases, try to resolve a dispute through mediation first and only move to arbitration if the legal issues cannot be settled.

It is important to think about how much it will cost and how long it will take to resolve a family law dispute. It is also important to think about the impact of the arbitration, and the conflict between the parties and anyone else involved in your dispute, on the children, and to think about how conflict can be reduced and cooperation encouraged.

Because the rules of procedure and rules of evidence can be customized in arbitration to fit the circumstances of the parties, their children, their finances and the legal issues, it is important to choose arbitration rules that are proportionate to:

  1. the wellbeing and interests of the children, and the future interests of the family as a whole;
  2. the importance and complexity of the issues involved in the dispute;
  3. the value of any support claims and any property or debt in dispute; and,
  4. the wellbeing and long-term interests of the parties themselves.

As a result, the rules of procedure used by John-Paul Boyd Arbitration Chambers have been designed to resolve family law disputes quickly and efficiently, and at a minimum cost. They provide a number of built-in procedural options intended to reflect the idea that the degree, duration and complexity of the arbitration process should be proportionate to the importance, value and complexity of the issues in dispute. Read the About John-Paul Boyd Arbitration Chambers page for more information about how mediation and arbitration can work together, and about the different procedural options available.

The goal of John-Paul Boyd Arbitration Chambers is to help the parties to a family law dispute resolve their dispute fairly and in a way that takes into account the impact that the dispute may have on any children, minimizes conflict and encourages cooperation between the parties, and promotes the future functioning of the separated family.



Copyright © 2018 John-Paul E. Boyd