If you are experiencing conflict during this time, you may be considering using an Online Dispute Resolution process to help you through. Many courts are not open or are only open for emergencies, and other traditional dispute resolution processes may not be an option given the current health crisis. And yet, conflict continues, and might even be exasperated by self-isolation and social-distancing. So you need a resolution, and you need one now. So what are your options? Online Dispute Resolution is a growing field and many practitioners are putting themselves online to help their clientele get a solution to their conflict during the COVID-19 crisis. But how can you ensure you are still getting a good quality process? Here's a helpful checklist for you if you are thinking about engaging in an Online Dispute Resolution Process:

1. Is the practitioner trained?

Many online services might be less than reputable. Check to make sure the person who is offering Online Dispute Resolution services is trained in the process you are choosing. They may or may not have Online Dispute Resolution specific training, but if they do not, they could still be a good practitioner if they have training in Dispute Resolution. Before you commit to the process, ask questions about the practitioner's experience and training to make sure you will receive a high quality of service.

2. Do you have the right technology to engage in Online Dispute Resolution?

Practitioners are trying to make their services accessible to as many people as possible in this challenging time, but they still might be beyond your reach. If you have a functional smart-phone, computer or tablet, and a secure internet connection, you are probably well equipped to participate in Online Dispute Resolution. If not, check with the service provider to see what other options there might be to still get you service.

3. Is the person you are in conflict with willing to use an Online Dispute Resolution process?

Many people are leery of Alternative Dispute Resolution processes and would prefer to use a more traditional adjudication process, even though that might mean waiting a long time to get a solution. If the person you are in conflict with is hesitate about engaging in Online Dispute Resolution, encourage them that they can still use the services of a lawyer and receive legal advice throughout the process. Also encourage them that this could be a very cost-effective and efficient way to get a solution. If they still are resistant, provide them with as much information as you can and let them think about it. Perhaps in self-isolation they will come around on their own and decide to participate.

4. Does the person you are in conflict with have the right technology to engage in Online Dispute Resolution?

Even if the person you are in conflict with is willing to try an Online Dispute Resolution process, they may not be able to engage in the process if they don't have the right technology. If they have a smart-phone, computer, or tablet and a secure internet connection, they are probably well equipped to participate in Online Dispute Resolution. If not, get them to check with the service provider to see what other options there might be to get you both the service you are needing.

5. Do you have safety concerns?

If you have safety concerns surrounding the conflict you are in, discuss with the Online Dispute Resolution practitioner to see what types of safety precautions and plans you can put in place to protect yourself throughout the process. Your practitioner might also suggest another process or say your situation is not appropriate for Online Dispute Resolution. If your situation is not appropriate for Online Dispute Resolution, you may want to contact a lawyer to see what other options might be available to you.

6. Do you know what type of Online Dispute Resolution process you want to use?

Online Dispute Resolution processes include Mediation, Arbitration, Mediation/Arbitration, and more! The process might be text/written only, audio only, audio/video, or a combination. For guidance on which process might be best for you, consult with various Online Dispute Resolution practitioners to learn what they offer and the style of Online Dispute Resolution they use.

7. Are you able to afford Online Dispute Resolution?

Though Online Dispute Resolution is likely one of the most affordable dispute resolution processes, during this difficult time when many people are struggling with cash-flow concerns, it might be outside your budget right now. Check with your practitioner about how they expect payment and what their fees are so you can ensure you can pay them for their services.

8. Do you have a back-up plan?

Often technology fails us, and if on one of the days you are scheduled to engage in your Online Dispute Resolution process your internet doesn't work or your computer crashes, do you have an alternative? Using your hot-spot on your phone, and switching to another computer or tablet could be viable back-up plans, but be prepared for total failure and have a way to contact your practitioner and the person you are in conflict with to let them know you will be unable to participate.

9. What if you can't make an agreement?

In any conflict resolution process there is uncertainty about results. In court, things can be delayed for weeks, months or even years, leaving you without a solution for a very long time. In other dispute resolution processes, you might run into an impasse which might cause the process to pause or end without a resolution. If you cannot reach an agreement using Online Dispute Resolution or if you cannot get a decision (if you are using an adjudication/arbitration process), what will you do? It is important to consider your worst-case-scenario and plan for how you will handle things moving forward if you can't get an agreement or decision.

10. Is your home well-suited to Online Dispute Resolution?

It is important to have a physical space that will be well-suited to the Online Dispute Resolution process. Ideally, you should have a space with a neutral background that is quiet, free from distractions, and that no one who is not involved in the dispute will accidentally overhear or see something that should be confidential and private. If you have children in your home it is particularly important to make sure that they are protected from overhearing anything that could be upsetting to them. If you can schedule your Online Dispute Resolution sessions while they are napping or asleep that could be a good solution. Chat with your practitioner about ways in which you can make your space suitable for the process and also discuss back-up plans for if someone accidentally walks in when they shouldn't or if an unexpected distraction comes up. Usually Online Dispute Resolution practitioners will have great suggestions on how to set yourself up for success in the process and will be very considerate of any special accommodations you might need.

If you have more questions about engaging in Online Dispute Resolution, please contact us and we would be happy to help you:

We are certified in providing Online Dispute Resolution services and we are trained Family Mediators.

For more information on what services we can offer you, please give us a shout and we would be happy to chat with you: 1-306-321-5378

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Updated: Mar 13, 2020

To know which direction to take when you begin on the journey of separating from your spouse can be difficult.

Many people talk to their friends or family members who have been through similar experiences. Others might ask Google for a recommendation.

Friends and family members can be great resources, however, every separation and divorce is unique, and one person's experience may be greatly different from another's. Friends and family members are also "on your side", so they may influence you to seek out an unnecessarily adversarial process so you can "win". And as the character Gavin said in War of Roses, "There is no winning! Only degrees of losing!".

Google can also be a great resource, however, the information you find on Google may be confusing and may not apply to you given your geographical location.

In general, the following are options for separating and divorcing in Saskatchewan:

1. Do it Yourself - PLEA has a DIY separation agreement generator and you can get all the documents for applying for a divorce from their website as well.

2. Hire a Mediator - a Mediator can help you negotiate the terms of your separation agreement and some may even draft the agreement for you. Some Mediators may also help you with the paperwork needed to apply for a divorce. To find a Mediator who specializes in Family Mediation, look here.

3. Hire an Arbitrator - an Arbitrator will make decisions for you. Arbitration is like "mini-court". To find a Arbitrator who specializes in Family Arbitration, look here.

4. Hire a Collaborative Lawyer - a Collaborative Lawyer negotiations your separation agreement for you, provides you with legal advice, can attend to your divorce proceeding for you and makes the commitment to settle all matters pertaining to your separation and divorce without using litigation. To find a Collaborative Lawyer who specializes in Family Matters, look here.

5. Hire a Lawyer - a Lawyer will negotiation your separation agreement for you, provide you with legal advice, can attend to your divorce proceeding for you and though they may settle all matters pertaining to your separation and divorce without the use of litigation, they may use litigious techniques or go through the steps of litigation to finalize your divorce.

Option 1 is a great option if you are a DIY kind of person. Like many DIY projects, you may end up having to hire someone to help you finish it up. Some people like to start with DIY and hire someone at the end, and others like to hire someone from the beginning. Consider if you are ready for the challenge before proceeding with Option 1.

Option 2 is a great option if you want to keep a lot of the control in your hands and still receive professional guidance. With this option you can also hire a Collaborative Lawyer to help you with the legal bits.

Option 3 is a great option if you want someone else to make the decisions, but you still want to stay out of the litigation process.

Option 4 is a great option if you want a high level of guidance. With this option you can also hire a Mediator to help facilitate meetings and negotiations. You could also hire an Arbitrator or an Mediator/Arbitrator to make decisions if you reach an impasse in your negotiations.

Option 5 can be an effective option for some individuals. This options is likely going to be the most expensive and time-consuming and the most likely to damage already fragile relationships.

If upon reading this post you still have questions, we are here to help! Feel free to contact us to discuss what option will be the best for you in your unique situation.

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Many people don't know where to start when they are preparing for a divorce.

We recommend the first thing you do is gather the documents you will need.

Though every situation is different, here are some documents you will likely need.

1. Your ORIGINAL Marriage Certificate

To apply for divorce in Saskatchewan, you will need your original marriage certificate. If you don't have yours on hand, you can easily order it through the eHealth website.

Note: If you were married in another country and your marriage certificate is not written in English, you will need to have it translated. The Open Door Society is a great option for translation services.

2. Your Separation Agreement

Though you may never need to provide this to the court, it is helpful to have a separation agreement completed before you file for divorce. This document can help address how you will divide your property, handle spousal and child support, and many other important issues that you may otherwise forget to deal with and can come back to haunt you later on.

Note: If you have children, it may be necessary to file your separation agreement with your divorce application. Speak to a lawyer or a mediator if you are unsure if this will apply to you.

3. Your financial information

It is common for people to file their most recent Notice of Assessment or Income Tax return with their divorce application. People may also choose to provide their last few pay-stubs in lieu of their income tax information if their income has significantly changed since they last submitted their taxes.

Note: This may not be necessary in your situation if there is no support obligation. Speak to a lawyer or a mediator if you are unsure if this will apply to you.

4. Your bank statements, credit card statements, mortgage statements, etc.

Though these documents may not be necessary for the official divorce proceeding, it is helpful to know where all of these documents are, especially if you are still in the process of negotiating a separation agreement.

5. Your Life Insurance & Health Benefits information

Though these likely will not be needed for the divorce proceeding, it is helpful to know if you need to cancel your insurance or benefits, or if they can be switched to a single person policy/benefit package.

Note: You may need to have a separation agreement or a divorce certificate to change insurance or benefits. Speak with your insurance or benefit provider if you are unsure.

6. Your Estate Documents

Though these are not needed for the divorce proceeding, many people have their spouse listed as their executor/trustee/proxy/power of attorney and/or beneficiary in their estate documents. Make sure you know where these documents are so you can double check if they need to be updated.

We hope you found this brief list helpful! If you have more questions about what might be helpful to gather before applying for divorce, please give us a shout! We'd love to help!

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