Resolving any outstanding issues

You can continue to negotiate with your spouse to try to reach an agreement on the outstanding issues, even if your divorce is going to a trial. If you can reach an agreement, you may be able to finalize your divorce without having to go through the formal trial process. A trial is generally not the best option for resolving a family law dispute because:

  • it can take a long time to go through the formal court process to get to a trial

  • going to court is expensive (hiring lawyers, missing work, having to pay for childcare while you’re in court)

  • it is emotionally draining and stressful

  • it’s hard to prepare and present your case

  • judges must be neutral, and have to follow rules of evidence

  • parties often go away unhappy with some part of the decision (because you may not get everything you asked for!)

Most importantly: when you go to court for a hearing or trial, you are handing control of some of the most important parts of your life over to a judge who does not know you or your children.

The Divorce Act says there is a legal obligation to try and resolve family law disputes without court, if appropriate.

Click here to read about the different family dispute resolution processes — ways to resolve family law issues without a trial.

However, family dispute resolution may not be right for you or your spouse if there has been family violence, if there is a high level of conflict, or a power imbalance between the two of you.

Think about whether there are any safety concerns before you take part in a family dispute resolution process and consider whether you will be able to have your voice heard, including any concerns or wishes about your child.  You could end up agreeing to something or consenting to a court order that is not appropriate. It can be very difficult to change an agreement after it is signed or an order after you have given your consent.

Remember to meet with a lawyer to get legal advice and information about how the law applies to your circumstances before starting any family dispute resolution process, and before you make a final decision or agreement.

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