5 Ways To Keep Your Family Law Dispute Out Of Court

Posted by Domenic Maio

Whether you are looking for a family law firm, or one in Toronto, you will want to find one that can get your family dispute settled quickly and with terms you can handle. This is a really difficult thing to do, especially if the case goes before a judge or jury. More often than not, court decisions are displeasing to both sides, and can be difficult to ratify once set in place.

In most family law disputes, it is difficult for the parties to come to an agreement without outside assistance. Luckily, there are several great alternatives to letting a court decide the fate of your family. Here are five of the most common ways to avoid to family court.


According to an article on the Texas Tech University website, mediation is the most popular alternative dispute resolution measure. Mediation involves a process in which a neutral person or team meets with the vested parties and attempt to facilitate resolution. The neutral person is known as the mediator.

One advantage to mediation is that it does not require an agreement to be made. Also, the mediator has no power to enforce any of his or her decisions. This method requires all parties to consent on the terms of the agreement.

Mini Trial

A mini trial is a sort of mock trial in which the attorneys of both parties meet with a third neutral party and present their cases. The neutral person then talks with both parties and their attorneys and explains how he or she would have ruled and why. This person can then act to mediate the sticking points of the dispute to find a resolution.

This can be a great way to bring all parties back to the rational world. As emotions build, it gets more difficult to see things clearly. By learning how and why the mini judge would have ruled, the parties can gain a better understanding about their options.

Summary Jury Trial

A summary jury trial is exactly like a normal jury trial, with one exception: the verdict doesn't count. In summary jury trials, the jurors don't usually know that it is not a real trial. That ensures that they act like they would under real circumstances.

There is often more negotiating after the mock trial. If the jurors are willing, the parties can ask them directly what their experience of the trial was like, and why they came to the decision they did. Whether the jury is willing to do this or not, these trials mimic a real trial very closely. This is another great way of educating the parties about what a trial would likely lead to, and what their options really are.


Arbitration involves having a third neutral party sit in as acting judge. This person then rules on the dispute as a judge would. This is different from the options listed so far in that the arbitrator's ruling is final. In most cases, it cannot be appealed.

This is an option for people that are looking to get a decision made quickly and/or in secret. However, because of similarities to real court, this is one of the least popular alternatives to resolving family law disputes.

Collaborative Law

Collaborative law is a relatively new option for resolving family disputes. This involves each party hiring a collaborative law attorney and signing an agreement to be respectful during the negotiations. The parties then meet with their attorneys and try to come to an agreement on their own. Sometimes it is necessary to bring in a neutral party to facilitate an agreement.

This option puts all of the decision-making power into the hands of the parties involved in the dispute. This tends to be one of the cheaper alternatives, and generally results in terms that favor both parties equally.

If you're facing a family law dispute, all is not lost. Hire an attorney and discuss your options. Don't let a court system decide the future of your family. Use an alternative dispute resolution process so that you can find common ground, and move on with your life.