Agreements

Reaching an Agreement

There are a number of ways to resolve family law issues and settle matters by agreement. Sometimes the people involved are able to work things out themselves. Sometimes they need help from a third-party to do this. Knowing your options and exploring ways to resolve issues can be the most important thing you do in the wake of a family breakdown. The way issues are resolved can have as much impact on everyone involved as the decisions themselves.

Early Dispute Resolution

Early dispute resolution (EDR) includes any way of resolving issues other than having a court make the decisions. EDR can be something the parties seek out themselves. In divorce cases, parties to any proceeding have a duty to try to resolve the issues through EDR. If the parties have not already tried, EDR may be a required step when starting a family law court case, depending on where in the province the case is started. See Family Dispute Resolution for more information.

If you hire a lawyer to make a family law court application, they have a duty to encourage you to use EDR to resolve the issues and to provide you with any information they have about services that could assist you in resolving the issues.

There are a number of options you can choose from to help you resolve your issues outside of court. See Family Dispute Resolution for a complete discussion of different types of EDR. If you use an EDR professional with the qualifications needed to do mandatory dispute resolution you will not need to see a another one if you later need to have the court make decisions. Dispute resolution professionals will charge a fee for their services. You should discuss the cost with the person you will be hiring. How the cost will be split between the parties should also be decided before the process begins. Dispute resolution professionals are required to have certain qualifications depending on the type of EDR they practice. You should discuss their qualifications before choosing a dispute resolution professional.

Using early dispute resolution can increase the chance that you will be able to agree instead of asking for court orders. Trained professionals involved in alternative dispute resolution can also help if there has been family violence or there is an imbalance of power between the parties. If you are in either of these situations it is very important to have the support you need to help you come to a fair agreement.

Family Matters

Family Matters provides assistance to families going through separation or divorce. They provide referrals to relevant services. They also provide information about the process and referrals to other sources of information. Through this program you can receive a free three-hour session with a dispute resolution professional. You can also reach the program by calling 1.844.864.3403 or emailing familymatters@gov.sk.ca.

Negotiation with Lawyers

Parties who cannot otherwise reach an agreement may negotiate an agreement through their lawyers. Negotiation allows parties who are unable to deal directly with each other to compare views with the other side, through a lawyer, in order to arrive at a settlement. In negotiation each party must discuss with a lawyer the terms they want in an agreement.

The two lawyers communicate with one another and lay out their respective clients’ position on matters that need to be resolved. Through discussion, the lawyers look for common ground and examine areas that their clients may be willing to compromise on. Before the lawyers agree to anything, they must check with the party they represent. This process continues until an agreement is reached.

The lawyers can ensure that both parties understand their legal rights and obligations and that the agreement is easy to understand and enforceable. Negotiation through a lawyer is useful if one or both parties are being unrealistic about their legal obligations and rights. It can also be useful if there has been family violence or there are issues of power and control because each party’s lawyer will act as an advocate for that party. It can be more time-consuming and expensive than if the parties work out an agreement another way.