Mandatory Early Family Dispute Resolution now in effect – and it’s hard to get an exemption

In March 2021 the rules about going to Court in a Family dispute changed. It is now harder to just go to Family Court to get a decision. You must attempt to settle things with your ex-spouse first and you must get a written certificate proving you tried. You can get the written certificate via collaborative law lawyers, via a mediator, via arbitrator, or via a parenting dispute co-ordinator. A Judge will not hear your application until you provide the written certificate that you attempted to settle out of court.

Practically speaking, most people’s circumstances lend themselves to mediation or collaborative law. Family Matters still offers a free two hour mediation via the Dispute Resolution Office. But if you also want the written certificate for Family Court purposes, you will have to pay for it. There are also family law lawyers who are family law mediators as well, and they don’t seem to be more expensive than the Dispute Resolution Office.

The only official exceptions to this new rule are where there has been:

  1. Interpersonal Violence; and/or
  2. A Restraining Order: and/or
  3. An abducted child; and/or
  4. Your ex won’t attend mediation or hire a collaborative lawyer; and/or
  5. Extra-ordinary Circumstances;

In my experience, a Restraining Order will likely lead to an exemption. Interpersonal violence is a vague term and it hasn’t been defined yet to the best of my knowledge, so the Court may just deny an exemption request based on interpersonal violence. Realistically, if there are no criminal charges laid, it will be hard to get an exemption based on interpersonal violence.

After an abducted child is returned, you will still likely have to get the written certificate.

Myself and other lawyers have asked for exemptions based on extra-ordinary circumstances, but have not been successful. Even if both of us lawyers request the exemption, it still won’t be granted.

But everybody’s case is a little bit different. So call me or another family lawyer to see what your options are.

New Will still available – Covid 19

I have had some calls about a new Will in the past few days. Despite corona virus, I am still open and able to prepare a new Will or update your old Will.
I generally prefer to get my Will instructions on the phone or by e-mail, so you don’t have to come to my office for that.
Once the new Will is prepared, I prefer to sign the new Will at my office, but it doesn’t have to be done in office. In fact, if you write your own Will in your own handwriting, you don’t even need any witnesses and don’t need to leave your own home!!
Or you could print off your new Will at home, and then get two witnesses who aren’t your spouse or beneficiaries to sign with you.
I don’t normally give out my e-mail address but these are not normal times. If you have any questions a new Will, or updating your old Will, my e-mail address is:

Family Property Disagreement? Try a free 2 hour Mediation from Family Matters.

Family Matters Saskatchewan offers a free 2 hour mediation, which is a good option for family property issues.   It may take a month or two to get in.   Any formal family property agreement will have to be written and signed by your lawyer afterwards.

Family Matters phone number is (844) 863-3408.   Their e-mail is   Their website is:

Free Child Support and Spousal Support Calculator

Every couple of years or so things slow down for a week or two and I have time to update this blog.

I offer a free 20 minute initial consultation but lots of people like to research what they can before calling.

WARNING: before reading the below and agreeing to ANYTHING give me or another family law lawyer a call.   Any agreement in writing and signed by you can be enforced by Saskatchewan Maintenance Enforcement Office.

If you are recently separated and wondering how much child support or spousal support you might have to pay there is a free website that can provide a rough guideline.   It is:

or you can go directly to the child support guidelines at:

Click to access ska.pdf

But you should call a lawyer before agreeing or signing anything.   The issue of Custody, Child Residence, and Access is also important and the old days where the Mother usually got the kids are over.   Where the kids stay and for how long affects how much child support is paid, and to who.

Getting Things Done

I previously had a post called “Is Your Lawyer To Busy?”.   A client has recently switched from a previous firm and the previous firm provided their file.   I was surprised to see that the previous firm had done little to move the lawsuit forward in several years.   The lawsuit was not complicated and since the client was a Plaintiff, it is the Plaintiff’s lawyer’s job to move the Plaintiff’s lawsuit ahead to trial.

I suspect that there are a lot of lawyers that view legal work as just work, and don’t see things from their client’s point of view.   The client wants legal advice, and if a Plaintiff, wants their matter moved ahead until settlement or trial.  They don’t want the lawyer to work on the file at their leisure or when they need billings.  They want things to move ahead.

I won’t claim to be perfect, but I can get a lawsuit moving forward.

David R. Barth

Misrepresentation on Property Disclosure Statement

I sometimes get calls from home buyers who discover that there are problems with the used house they just bought.  Often the problem relates to water in the basement and the Property Disclosure Statement from the seller states that there are no known issues.

The first thing to do is contact your realtor and see if there is anything the seller is willing to do to compensate you.

If the seller is not willing to compensate you, your only remedy is to sue the seller for misrepresentation.

At trial, you and your lawyer will have to provide sufficient evidence to prove that there was an issue in the past and the seller knew about it.  You will also have to provide evidence about the cost of repairs.   Experts are usually required for both.

Keep in mind that you don’t need a lawyer for a Small Claims Court, which can award damages up to $20,000.00.

David R. Barth

Builder’s Liens

I had a happy client with a builder’s lien issue.   With respect to builder’s liens, I have acted for building owners, general contractors, and sub contractors.

Construction can be a dirty business.   If you are a general contractor, and the building owner suddenly decides he doesn’t want to pay you $50,000.00, then not only are you not getting paid, neither are your sub contractors.   $50,000 is a lot of money.

The advice I give out depends on whether you are a building owner, or a contractor.   There are tips and tricks for both sides.   Since I act for both sides, I am not going to advice on this blog.   But if you have a question, send me an e-mail or call my direct line.  I don’t charge for a 20 minute consultation.

David R. Barth

Free Initial Consultation

People often need legal advice but are worried that a lawyer will charge them even if they don’t have a case.

Our firm offers a free 20 minute initial consultation so you don’t have to worry.   If our services aren’t required, or you decide not to hire us, we don’t charge you.

Also, if your lawyer is no longer practicing, call us for a free consultation.

I find that callers are often stressed out at the beginning of the consultation, but once they have discussed their case with me, their stress levels have decreased significantly.

David R. Barth

Billing Clients

There are two ways that lawyers bill their clients for legal fees, either a fixed amount, or based on time spent working on the file.

Lawyers will typically bill a fixed amount for wills and residential real estate transactions.

For everything else a lawyer will charge their hourly rate x time spent.

A lawyer’s time spent includes meeting the client about the file, e-mails and phone calls with the client, preparing documents, and comminicating with opposing counsel.  A client can help reduce their legal fees by efficiently communiciating with their lawyer.   For example, don’t send three e-mails when one will do.  If possible try to give your lawyer the information he needs all at once, and in writing.

Don’t forget that lawyers also have to charge for their expenses and GST and PST in addition to legal fees.   In a real estate transaction, that can often be more than the legal fees.

Clients usually don’t have issues with fixed rate fees, but I do get complaints about other lawyer’s hourly rate fees.  Sometimes they are fair, and sometimes not.  If you think they are not fair, you can ask the Court of Queen’s Bench to assess the bill for fairness.

David R. Barth

Holograph Wills

In Saskatchewan, holograph wills are still legal.   I don’t recommend it, but it is still legal.

Section 8 of The Wills Act, 1996, states:

Holograph Wills

8. A holograph will, wholly in the handwriting of the testator and signed by him or her, may be made without any further formality or any requirement as to the presence of or attestation or signature by a witness.

The reason I don’t recommend you try to create your own will is because you should get legal advice about the information to put in your will.  Not having the right information can cost your estate thousands of dollars in unnecessary court applications.

David R. Barth