News & Announcements

Below is an archive of the announcements released by the Court. Subscribe to the mailing list to receive notifications via e-mail when new Court of Queen's Bench announcements are posted.

 

Family Law Dispute Resolution Processes, Rule 4.16 Amendments and Family Docket Court

May 19, 2020

In a March 31, 2020 Announcement, the Court encouraged counsel and the public to access alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, as a means of reducing delays and reducing the backlog in the Court after the restrictions on personal attendance in our courtrooms due to Covid-19 are relaxed: https://albertacourts.ca/qb/resources/announcements/alternative-dispute-resolution-consent-orders-and-applications-to-enforce-arbitration-awards

This announcement provides more information about the types of dispute resolution resources that are available in the Justice Ministry and in the community. As we move forward and current restrictions are relaxed, it remains important for family well-being and for the future of court operations, that counsel and the public undertake alternative dispute resolution mechanisms as a means of resolving family matters.

The Alberta Rules of Court were amended in March of 2020 to allow a Justice to direct by order that the parties participate in a dispute resolution process. In addition, for those matters that must go to trial, parties are not permitted to request a trial date unless they provide a certificate that they have participated in a dispute resolution process. (See Rule references at the bottom of this page)

In a May 13, 2020 Announcement, the Court launched a Family Docket Court to manage family matters more efficiently and in a way that supports families. In Family Docket Court, parties will be encouraged to attempt alternative forms of dispute resolution if they have not already done so and if it is appropriate in the circumstances.

https://albertacourts.ca/qb/resources/announcements/launch-of-family-docket-court

There are a number of tools, processes and alternative dispute resolution organizations available to assist in family matters, some of which are listed below for your convenience:

PARENTING TOOLS

There are many parenting apps that can be used to assist parents to resolve disputes and improve communication. Two of those platforms are listed below.

coParenter – a tool to empower families to resolve their own parenting issues. The platform includes online mediation and coaching, coronavirus-related safety plans, parenting plans, holiday and vacation schedules, agreements, education and support. For a period of 60 days during the pandemic, this tool is being made available to Alberta families at no cost. For more information go to https://rfjslab.wordpress.com/2020/05/15/coparenter-is-providing-a-free-60-day-licence-for-alberta-families/#more-925 . Families can register online and begin to use the coParenter tools by clicking on this link: ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ https://coparenter.page.link/1dY6

Our Family Wizard – tools to manage schedules, track expenses, share files and communication are contained within this app, so parents can solve parenting challenges faster and without confusion: www.ourfamilywizard.ca/

MEDIATION

Mediation is a family-centered conflict resolution process in which an impartial third party (the mediator) helps the participants negotiate a consensual, informed and fair agreement. Mediators can be found through the organizations listed below.

Alberta Justice, Resolution Services, Family Mediation – a voluntary service to help parents and families resolve issues that affect their children. To qualify for this service, one of the parties must have a gross income of less than $40,000 per year, both parties must agree to participate, and there must be at least one dependent child who is either under 18, or over 18 and eligible for continued child support: https://www.alberta.ca/family-mediation.aspx

Alberta Family Mediation Society (AFMS) – a professional association of family mediators and parenting coordinators in Alberta: https://afms.ca/

Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Alberta (ADRIA) – a professional association of mediators, arbitrators and other ADR practitioners in Alberta: https://www.adralberta.com/

OTHER ALBERTA JUSTICE PROGRAMS FOR DISPUTE RESOLUTION

Alberta Justice, Resolution Services, Dispute Resolution Officer Program  (DRO) –  Calgary. This program is for all parties in Calgary who have a child support dispute in the Court of Queen’s Bench. Parties must attend a DRO session prior to their court appearance. If an agreement on child support is reached, a Consent Order may be drafted and their dispute resolved: https://www.alberta.ca/dispute-resolution-officer-program.aspx or email DRO.Calgary@gov.ab.ca

Alberta Justice, Resolution Services, Child Support Resolution Program (CSR) Edmonton – This program is for self-represented parties in Edmonton who have a child support dispute. Self-represented parties must attend a CSR session prior to making an application for child support in the Court of Queen’s Bench. If an agreement on child support is reached, a Consent Order may be drafted and their dispute resolved: https://www.alberta.ca/child-support-resolution-program.aspx or email csr.edmonton@gov.ab.ca

COLLABORATIVE FAMILY PROFESSIONALS

Collaborative practice is a process that enables separating or divorcing spouses to create their own divorce (or separation) agreement with the support of specially trained professionals. It allows parties to resolve disputes without resort to a third-party decision maker, and may include legal, mental health, financial and other experts as needed. In Alberta, there is a provincial organization: Collaborative Divorce Alberta Association https://collaborativepractice.ca/ and six regional associations of collaborative divorce professionals:

A “Find a Professional” link at the top of the Collaborative Divorce Association of Alberta home page, allows a search for professionals by region.

PARENTING COORDINATION AND PARENTING EXPERTS

The role of a Registered Parenting Coordinator and Arbitrator (RPCA) is to help with communication and cooperation between parents for the purpose of effectively co-parenting their children. A parenting expert is a member of a regulated profession that recognizes for the purposes of registration a combination of education, training, experience, and continuous learning.

Alberta Family Mediation Society (AFMS) – a professional association of family mediators and parenting coordinators in Alberta: https://afms.ca/

AFCC (Association of Family and Conciliation Courts) Alberta Chapter https://www.afccalberta.org/referral-list

ARBITRATION

Arbitrators are independent decision-makers, appointed by contract to settle a dispute. You can find an arbitrator for family matters at the websites listed below.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Alberta (ADRIA) – a professional association of mediators, arbitrators and other ADR practitioners in Alberta: https://www.adralberta.com/

FamilyCounsel.ca is an online community for Alberta family lawyers, which includes a link to family law arbitrators, mediators and other family law related experts: https://familycounsel.ca/experts.php

ALBERTA RULES OF COURT REFERENCES:

Rule 4.16 is amended by adding the following after subrule (3):

(4)  A case management judge or a case conference judge may, on application or on the Court’s own motion, by order direct that the parties participate in a dispute resolution process.

(5)  In determining whether an order under subrule (4) should be made, the case management judge or case conference judge may consider all relevant circumstances, including

(a) the issues in the litigation,

(b) the nature of the cause of action and the relief claimed,

(c) the identity, relationship and means of the parties,

(d) whether the action has proceeded to a stage at which alternative dispute resolution is likely to be successful, including whether record production and questioning are sufficiently advanced to support the dispute resolution process, and

(e) whether any of the factors in subrule (2) justify delaying, modifying or dispensing with the need to participate in a dispute resolution process.

(6)  As part of an order made under subrule (4), the case management judge or case conference judge may give directions respecting any aspect of the dispute resolution process, including

(a) the identity of a neutral third party to be involved in the process,

(b) where an equal sharing of the expenses is not appropriate, directions apportioning the responsibility of each party for the expenses of the neutral third party and other disbursements relating to the process,

(c) the time, location, structure or conduct of the process, and

(d) the consequences of the failure of any party to comply with any directions, or to pay its share of the expenses.

Rule 8.4 of the Alberta Rules of Court

Rule 8.4(3)(a)(i) requires parties requesting a trial date to provide a certificate that they have participated in at least one of the dispute resolution processes described in Rule 4.16(1).

Note: The Court of Queen's Bench does not endorse nor take responsibility for the services listed and is providing this list to the public only for information purposes.