Mediation Program Offers an Alternative to Court in Family Disputes
YELLOWKNIFE (April 23, 2009) – Northwest Territories (NWT) families will now have improved access to mediation services to help them through legal disputes, Minister of Justice Jackson Lafferty announced today.
Mediation is a cooperative approach to resolving issues that arise from separation and divorce. With the assistance of a trained mediator, the parties work out solutions rather than asking a judge to make the decisions for them.“This program is free and is available throughout the NWT,” said Minister Lafferty. “It encourages people to work together to have their issues resolved in a way that works for them. It is particularly helpful in cases where the parties are trying to work out custody and access.”
“This is a great step forward for progressive remediation in the NWT,” said Yellowknife Centre MLA Robert Hawkins, who raised attention to the issue during the February Budget Session. “This program will help Northerners going through separation or divorce negotiations to peacefully mitigate their differences in the best interest of their families.”
Mediation services were piloted from 2005-2008 using a single mediator. The expanded program uses a roster of six mediators and is available throughout the territory.
Mediation is usually much faster and less expensive than going to court: agreements can sometimes be reached within a few hours. Mediation is not suitable for all situations, however; both parties must be willing to participate, and there must not be significant power imbalances in the relationship.
The Department of Justice is working with judges and lawyers who practice family law to make improvements to the family-law system in the NWT. The goal is to create a more effective and accessible system that gives families more choices for resolving legal disputes.
NWT residents can set up an appointment to see a family mediator by calling 1-866-217-8923. Additional information about family law, including legal forms and guides, is available at http://www.justice.gov.nt.ca/FamilyLaw/.
For more information contact:
Department of Justice
Government of the Northwest Territories
Tel: (867) 920-3130