Family Law Dispute Resolution Options

Not all methods of dispute resolution in family law involve the court process. In fact, some involve a commitment not to go to court. Anyone involved in family disputes should seek legal assistance to understand their options and choose an approach that suits their specific circumstances.


Negotiation involves discussions between spouses in order to reach an agreement. Spouses may meet directly on an informal basis, or they may wish to have their legal representatives negotiate on their behalf. In some cases, the spouses and their lawyers attend “four-way meetings” to negotiate the key matters. Located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, MDW Law’s family lawyers are experienced negotiators who are comfortable in each of these situations.


Mediation involves the use of a neutral, third-party mediator. The mediator will meet with both participants, individually and together, to identify the issues that need to be resolved. The mediator will review the information collected and guide discussions between the participants towards a satisfactory agreement.

A mediator does not make binding decisions but helps the participating parties to do so. For this reason, mediation requires that both parties participate voluntarily and are committed to work towards an agreement.

Collaborative Family Law

Collaborative family law is a settlement-oriented process that allows parties to resolve family law disputes through negotiation without going to court. To proceed with the collaborative family law process, participants must agree to use co-operative strategies rather than adversarial techniques to work through the issues.

Through a series of meetings, the participants and their collaborative team work to gather information and arrive at solutions that will assist them in crafting a legally binding agreement. By ensuring the proceeding does not become part of the public record, the collaborative process protects the privacy of the family during the dispute.


The courts provide a process and forum through which parties can resolve their family law disputes. When parties go to court, a judge can issue an order to address matters that the parties have been unable to resolve through other means. Orders are granted after one or both parties present evidence to the judge at a hearing.

Rather than advance to a formal hearing, the Nova Scotia courts offer parties the option to resolve matters at a judicial settlement conference. During the conference, the parties and their lawyers attend court discuss settlement options with a judge, who guide the parties through the issues in an effort to find solutions. The judge may provide an opinion on the merits of one or both parties’ positions, and may also advise how a judge might decide the case after a hearing. At a settlement conference, the judge cannot make an order. If the parties are successful in resolving their issues, their agreement will be put on the court record and turned into a court order.  Settlement conferences have a high success rate. If the parties cannot settle all issues at a settlement conference, a different judge will be appointed to hear the case.

Please contact us at our Halifax office to find out how our family lawyers can help you.



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