Note: the federal Divorce Act only applies to married people. Changes to the provincial Family Law Act are forthcoming.

 

The changes to the Divorce Act are finally here – like everything recently, the implementation was delayed a year due to the pandemic. As of March 1, 2021, the changes are now in force.

Newly separating/divorcing people now have a legal duty to use dispute resolution services other than courts – negotiating, mediation, collaborative, parenting coordination and also mediation-arbitration or arbitration.

Lawyers also have a legal duty to encourage FDR options to clients.

The legal duty expends to the ‘extent that it is appropriate’ to do so. What that means depends on the circumstances and who you ask.

Family dispute resolution professionals are highly trained and are required to assess every situation for appropriateness for FDR. There are very few cases where FDR outside of court is not the best option.

The new requirements do not mean you are on your own and will not have the benefit of legal advice. FDR professionals will always recommend that parties seek independent legal advice at some point during the process.

Choosing the right professional is as important as the right process. A certified professional will give you greater confidence as that person is will be trained and have experience. The Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario includes members who are mediators, arbitrators, parenting coordinators, financial professionals and coaches and academics – www.fdrio.ca