1. Think about trying ADR

You must think about using an (ADR) process or a family dispute resolution process to resolve your issues out of court if it’s suitable for your situation. ADR might not be right for you if:

  • one person is afraid of another person because there is a history of family violence
  • there are serious mental health or drug abuse issues

In any of these situations, you should still think about ADR but it may be better to start a family law court case to resolve your issues.

Most ADR processes use family law professionals to help you reach an agreement or, in some cases, make a decision for you. Some family law professionals are neutral, which means they work for both of you and don’t take sides.

ADR can sometimes work better than going to court because it:

  • can be faster
  • can be cheaper
  • can be less stressful
  • is more private than going to court

Many people chose ADR because it also allows you to control the process more than going to court. For example, you can decide:

  • The type of family law professional that you want to use. See Step 2 for more information. You can even decide who exactly you will work with. This is different from going to court, where you don’t get to pick your judge. You may also have different judges dealing with your case at different times. This can mean that you spend more time explaining your situation each time you meet with a different judge.
  • What timeline fits your schedule. For example, you may choose to meet with a family law professional who is available in the evenings so that you can meet with them after work.
  • How your lawyers, if any, will be involved.
  • Who will pay for the costs.

You may also get more time to discuss your issues when you use ADR. And you may be able to discuss issues that you wouldn’t be able to talk about in court, for example, how you and your partner can help your child deal with your separation.


You cannot use ADR to get a . If you’re legally  and want to end your marriage, you must apply to the court for a divorce. But you can use ADR to help you decide who applies to the court to get a divorce. You can also use ADR to resolve your other issues, like parenting arrangements, , and support.

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