WHAT IS THE DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROGRAM AND WHY IS IT COMPULSORY?

  1. Home
  2. News
  3. WHAT IS THE DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROGRAM AND WHY IS IT COMPULSORY?
WHAT IS THE DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROGRAM AND WHY IS IT COMPULSORY?/

WHAT IS THE DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROGRAM AND WHY IS IT COMPULSORY?

Debra J. Price 8 August 2017

The Dispute Resolution Officer program was first introduced in Calgary in 2001 as a pilot project.  It is now, and has been for many years, mandatory in both Calgary and Edmonton prior to any child support application being brought at the Court of Queen’s Bench level.  This means that you need to attend a DRO prior to having your child support application heard in court.


What Is a Dispute Resolution Appointment?


A Dispute Resolution appointment is a one-hour meeting with both parties, their counsel (if they have been retained), and a senior family lawyer who acts as the Dispute Resolution Officer.  The senior lawyer must have a minimum of 10 years of experience in the area of family law so that they are able to properly assist the parties in making a resolution regarding their child support issues.   

The senior family lawyer, or officer, uses a mediation approach to deal with the issues surrounding child support, including:

  1. the potential issues of income
  2. section 3 support amounts
  3. defining section 7 expenses
  4. the share of the expenses that is to be paid by each party, and
  5. yearly recalculation issues. 

This is mandatory and must be booked prior to a court application for child support being filed and attended prior to child support applications being heard in court.  You do not, however, need to have an application filed to book an appointment as this process can be used to amend orders on a consent basis.


What Happens if an Agreement is Reached During the DRO Appointment?

The Dispute Resolution appointment is done on a “without prejudice” basis, which means that the entire meeting stays confidential unless the parties reach an agreement.  If an agreement is reached, either the parties’ lawyers will write it up as an agreement or consent order, or if there are no lawyers involved, the officer may be able to assist in getting the consent before the courts. 

At no time can the officer be called to court to testify on behalf of either party as to what occurred in the meeting, nor can the parties use any of the information or negotiations stated in the meeting in any future court proceedings.  This enables and encourages both parties to use this process to try and resolve the issues and not to have offers used against them if things are not agreed to.

Does the Dispute Resolution Program Really Work?

These meetings have been shown to have a success rate of approximately 70% and the program has become compulsory based on the success of these outcomes.   This process helps parties with one of the most significant areas of conflict: money.

Benefits of the DRO Program:

  1. All of the people who can agree do not need to have a judge make an arbitrary decision regarding their lives.
  2.  People gain the ability to have some control over the results.
  3. Parties who do not have legal representation are able to have an experienced family lawyer ensure that whatever agreement they do want to enter into for child support is compliant with the rules, and includes all additional information and clauses that are currently required to make the order enforceable.

As an officer with approximately 14 years of experience, I believe in the success of this program in allowing parties to better understand the child support issues, to take control over as many aspects of child support as possible, and to move this matter forward in a more relaxed and cost effective manner. 

Contact Us

Stay up–to–date

Debra J. Price 8 August 2017

WHAT IS THE DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROGRAM AND WHY IS IT COMPULSORY?

The Dispute Resolution Officer program was first introduced in Calgary in 2001 as a pilot project.  It is now, and has been for many years, mandatory in both Calgary and Edmonton prior to any child s…

Alison J. Chickloski 4 August 2017

Negotiation, Mediation or Arbitration in Family Law: Which is Best?

When parties separate and commence the divorce process or when they decide to settle support or parenting matters, many times they advise their family lawyer that they do not want to end up in court o…

Alison J. Chickloski 21 June 2017

Post-Secondary Education Expense Obligations for Separated or Divorced Parents

Section 7 of the Alberta Child Support Guidelines and the Federal Child Support Guidelines sets out a number of expenses that are to be shared by the parents of a child. Such expenses are above and be…

Alison J. Chickloski 20 June 2017

Unequal Division of Matrimonial Property

Under Alberta’s Matrimonial Property Act, there is a presumption that all property acquired during marriage is divided equally between the spouses, as long as the property is not exempt (see my pos…

Aaron M. Vanin 11 May 2017

How am I able to claim the dependent deductions?

The decision of Harder v. The Queen 2016 TCC197 dealt with the Appeal of a Child Support Order in which there was shared parenting. Mr. Harder earned more money than his ex-wife, and the two shared th…

More