Family Arbitration

(For Family Mediation, please refer to the “Mediation” section)

Arbitration is a process where spouses sign a contract agreeing that an independent person makes a decision, similar to a judge. To get everything resolved in a divorce, spouses usually need to either come to an agreement or go through a trial, which can be years away, and very expensive because of all the steps which need to be completed to get to a trial. Arbitration simplifies that, so that you can receive a decision sooner, usually at a much lower cost than trial.

Our arbitrations are much faster than resolving your dispute through the courts, which means less time being stressed out from being locked in a legal dispute, and less time at war can lead to more cooperation between parents after the dispute is settled. Arbitration hearings are typically also more relaxed, flexible, and informal than courts, which can help to reduce stress and custom-tailor the approach to your family’s unique needs.

Judges usually have not practiced Family Law before joining the courts, which can lead to arbitrariness, costly appeals, and additional hearings. In arbitration, you can reduce that risk by choosing a Family Law arbitrator with experience in Family Law.

Arbitration starts with a conference call between spouses or their lawyers and the arbitrator, where you decide the procedure to be followed. Interim hearings can be held to address emergencies or address what needs to be completed prior to a final decision, such as exchanging financial documentation. The procedure is either by agreement or otherwise decided by the arbitrator, which decreases the amount of complex rules. Spouses can participate in arbitration with or without lawyers, although we recommend obtaining independent legal advice.


BARR LLP's Family Law Arbitration Team

BARR LLP has Ken Proudman, who teaches the Advanced Family Law course at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law as a Family Law arbitrator. Our Family Law arbitrator led a successful initiative to persuade the Court to support and facilitate arbitration, and operate the Family Law arbitration educational website, which contains more information about arbitration.

Business and Farms

Separations involving businesses or farms are particularly complex. There are many special rules that apply to business division and income calculation. In many cases, spouses wish to ensure that the business or farm can continue to operate unimpeded by the separation and property division, so that it can continue to benefit your family. Farming in particular is a very distinct lifestyle, with unique seasonal demands, income tax calculations, inheritance considerations, and high financing demands to be able to afford equipment.

Our Family Law arbitrators have a wealth of experience addressing divorces and separations involving businesses or farms. Ken Proudman started his career focusing on business law and tax reorganizations at an agricultural law firm. He has also lived on a farm. When he is not arbitrating, Ken’s practice consists almost entirely of divorces and separations involving businesses or farms. Our arbitrator taught other lawyers at dozens of seminars and have taught law students the law of business and tax issues in Family Law at University of Alberta Faculty of Law courses. BARR LLP has a practice group of lawyers who handle divorces and separations involving family businesses or farms.