The Hybrid Process

Mediation-Arbitration, often referred to as Med-Arb, is a hybrid form of the mediation and arbitration processes in which a mutually agreed to neutral third party initially conducts a mediation process (i.e. the mediation phase).  In the event that the parties are unable to resolve all of their family law issues through mediation, at a later date the parties undertake an arbitration process in respect of the unresolved issues (i.e. the arbitration phase) and the third party, in her role as arbitrator, will render a binding decision relating to those unresolved issues (however, as in the case of a judicial decision, an arbitral decision is subject to appeal).  As in the case of arbitration, the parties will enter into a Med-Arb agreement with the third party regarding the terms, rules, and procedures of the Med-Arb process.

What are the benefits of Mediation-Arbitration?

Mediation-Arbitration, as a hybrid process, is intended to combine the benefits of each of the processes from which it is derived (See Benefits of Mediation and Benefits of Arbitration).  In particular, the hybrid process enables parties to mutually resolve all family law issues they can agree upon during the mediation phase and know that all remaining issues will be resolved through the arbitration phase.  In Cheryl’s experience, the Mediation-Arbitration process is more likely to result in a mutually agreed resolution of issues (and in many cases, all issues) during the mediation phase than might otherwise be the case through a mediation process alone.  This very positive and beneficial result arises because parties are incentivized to work towards a successful resolution of the issues upon their terms rather than have terms imposed upon them by the third party as an arbitrator if they fail to reach an agreement.  In addition, having a single individual familiar with the matter act as both mediator and arbitrator can result in time and cost savings compared to undertaking both processes separately, particularly if different individuals are retained for the two processes

Particular Benefits Of Mediation-Arbitration Include:

  • Finality – the family law issues in dispute will be resolved by either the mediation or arbitration phases.
  • Flexibility – the process offers the opportunity to have a mutually agreed resolution in the mediation phase and have the remaining issues resolved in the arbitration phase.
  • Reduced Cost and Time – Mediation-Arbitration can generally be concluded more quickly and at less expense than separate mediation, arbitration, or court proceedings.
  • Incentive for Mediated Solution – In Cheryl’s experience, awareness by the parties that an arbitrated decision may be imposed if the parties fail to come to a mutually agreed mediated solution creates an incentive for the parties to participate in the mediation phase genuinely and in good faith and to successfully mediate their dispute.
  • High Success Rate – In Cheryl’s experience, the incentives referred to above result in a high success rate, with relatively few cases in Mediation-Arbitration proceeding to the arbitration phase.

Choosing the Right Mediator -Arbitrator

The Mediator/Arbitrator in the Mediation-Arbitration process requires substantial training and expertise in order to successfully and effectively manage and fulfill their dual role in this hybrid dispute-resolution process.  Cheryl has such training and expertise.  Cheryl has nearly 40 years of experience as a family law lawyer and a Masters degree in counselling, is a Certified Family Law Specialist and is designated as an Accredited Family Mediator by the Ontario Association for Family Mediation and, as an arbitrator, a Designated ADR Professional of the ADR Institute of Ontario.  She is the recipient of many awards and accolades for her work and contributions in the area of Family Law, including the Ontario Bar Association’s Award For Excellence In Family Law, which is awarded to a single outstanding nominee annually.

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