Process Options: How I Can Help

Family law issues may be resolved through a variety of different processes, and understanding the range of available options can help you to determine the best method for dealing with your particular situation. The information provided on this site is intended to help you get to know some of the process options for family dispute resolution.

When considering which approach would be best for you, you might ask yourself the following questions:

+ How much are my former partner and I capable of handling ourselves, and how much outside intervention is appropriate?
+ How actively do I want to be involved in the decision-making?
+ Do I feel safe talking to my former partner, either on my own or with someone else present?
+ Can I treat my former partner with respect even when we disagree?
+ Am I willing to listen to my former partner and consider his or her needs as well?
+ How much control do I want to have over the outcome? Would I feel comfortable letting someone else decide what is best for my family?
+ Am I focused on achieving a mutually acceptable settlement, or is my goal to “win”?

Your Options


Mediation is a voluntary process where a neutral third party assists the parties in negotiating a mutually acceptable agreement, which is then reviewed by lawyers and turned into a binding Separation Agreement.

Collaborative Family Law

Collaborative law is a form of voluntary, lawyer-assisted negotiation between former spouses, and is unique in that it involves a pledge by both parties not to go to court.

Lawyer-Led Negotiations

The traditional form of lawyer-assisted negotiations are conducted by the parties’ lawyers, with a focus on what each believes a judge would decide if the case went to court.


Sometimes former spouses are able to reach an agreement directly, without outside involvement. Lawyers may still be necessary to ensure the agreement is made on an informed basis and will be legally binding.

Litigation (Court Proceedings)

For most couples, going to court is the last resort. However, it is sometimes necessary to turn to the courts to decide what should happen if the parties cannot reach an agreement or if there are safety concerns.


Arbitration is a voluntary process where the parties agree to give a neutral third party the authority to make binding decisions about the issues that are in dispute.

Comparison Chart


Here you will find links to articles to help explain the issues and options around family law.

Separation agreement paves path to well-structured divorce


By Jennifer Brown, Senior Editor Couples might be tempted to skip the separation agreement when they split, but it is an essential first step […]

Separation agreement not the final word on spousal support


By Staff A separation agreement is not always the final word on spousal support, says St. Catharines family lawyer and mediator Sharon Silbert. In a […]