Family Law Mediation works because it gives the family the power to make decisions about their future.
Families going through separation are often stretched, both emotionally and financially. In most cases family mediation is a better option than the traditional court process. Most separating couples want to work things out quickly. Families with children need to agree on parenting arrangements, child support, spousal support, and property division. The traditional court process can take years to settle these issues. In family mediation, the interests of children are paramount. We can help families keep the focus on the children and – where appropriate – incorporate the children in to the process.
The Family Law Act s. 8 requires that we screen for family violence and power and control issues. A history of family violence does not preclude mediation, but it means that we have to ensure the safety of the participants.
The mediator’s role is to help the parties identify what is important to them. We will then help you both develop a strategy to meet your needs. We will also provide reality checking for both parties. Ensuring that expectations are realistic is an important part of the process.
The First Step
Once the parties have decided on family law mediation, the first step is for the mediator to meet individually with the parties. This is to ensure that both parties understand the process and that family mediation is appropriate in your case. This is when the power and control screening occurs. Only in the most extreme cases would we refuse to mediate a situation.
The next step is generally information gathering. This can include financial information, pre-existing agreements, and understanding your legal rights. We recommend that you speak to a lawyer so that you know your legal rights before starting mediation.
A lawyer can also help you prepare a Financial Statement and provide you with independent legal advice when you reach an agreement. You have the right to have a lawyer attend mediation with you. You also have the right during the mediation to consult with a lawyer. We will often take breaks during a mediation session so parties can contact their lawyers. In most of our cases, lawyers do not attend the mediation, but are available by phone. This represents a significant savings.
Once the necessary information is gathered and shared, the family law mediation can commence. What it actually looks like will depend a lot on the parties. You have the power to decide. You can mediate everything or just some issues.
It is your choice. We are here to help.
The Mediation Advantage
Faster — The process is faster and more meaningful because the parties are working together to find solutions rather “battling it out” in court.
Affordable — Both parties control the process and share in the cost of the mediation.
Confidential — Decisions reached by the parties remain private, unless otherwise agreed.
Improved Communication — The mediation process often builds more effective communication strategies, which lead to reduced conflict and more cooperation.
Flexible — Unlike a court order, the parties can renegotiate their agreement at any time, for the fraction of the cost of returning to court.
Most mediations result in a complete agreement. Those that result in partial agreement still benefit from reduced trial time and cost.