Areas Of Focus

Family Law Mediation Vs. Family Law Litigation

When most people think of separation and divorce, they think of going to court. This is the way family breakdown has traditionally been dealt with in British Columbia. The new Family Law Act has changed that and requires the parties and lawyers dealing with a family law dispute to consider alternative dispute resolution options prior to commencing court process.

At West Coast ADR Law Group, we don't believe litigation is the best way to deal with families in crisis. The new Family Law Act was put together at least in part to encourage couples to seek a way that is better, more affordable and more efficient.

Litigation has its place. If there are issues, such as violence, intimidation, power imbalance, delay and lack of disclosure to deal with, litigation may be an option to consider, and our litigation team at the Quay Law Centre can help you. For the majority of cases, mediation, arbitration and other forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) can be much more effective.

Court And Mediation: A Comparison

Our founding lawyer, Carol Hickman, Q.C., has done extensive research to obtain her Master of Laws in ADR. This included a comparison of the average costs of litigation, mediation and other ADR options. A summary of the results of her research includes:

  • Cost: The average cost of a lawyer preparing and attending court for one day is approximately $7,750 per party. The costs of starting an action, case conferences, examinations for discovery and other preparatory steps can be immense and are in addition to this cost.
    By contrast, the average cost of a one day mediation without lawyers is approximately $1,838. The average cost of a one day mediation, with lawyers attending is approximately $7,400.
    For additional information, refer to Ms. Hickman's research paper in the resource section.
    Spending so much on conflict, rather than to find solutions together, can be difficult to justify. It takes money away from you and your children just when you need it most in order to move forward with your lives.
  • Time: Courts are often backlogged and a trial can take years to complete. Mediation may also take time, but a lengthy mediation is usually measured in months, not years. For additional information on the average times of each ADR process compared to litigation, please refer to the Family Law Dispute flowchart.
  • Adversarial attitude: In litigation, the role of a lawyer is to support his or her client. In mediation, both sides try to work toward a fair, balanced solution. Lawyers still support their clients, but part of their support includes helping clients see when cooperation may be more useful to them than hostility.
  • Decision-making: In a trial, the judge has the final say. The judge is a stranger who has never met you or your family, and who may only know what the lawyers have told him or her. In mediation, you are in charge of the decision-making process.

Contact West Coast ADR Law Group

To learn more about litigation and mediation, contact us at 778-728-0670 or fill out our online form to set up an appointment. We serve clients in Vancouver, Surrey, New Westminster and surrounding areas.