Family Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process that can resolve the full range of family law issues, or narrow the issues in dispute. Unlike the legal process which can push parties to extreme positions, mediation assists parties to find common ground and focus resources on the issues that are truly in dispute.
The Mediator is a neutral facilitator who does not take sides, but assists the parties to communicate and negotiate the issues in dispute. Mediation works best when the parties are informed, provide full financial disclosure, and come to the table in good faith. We recommend that each party meet with a lawyer for a legal consultation prior to mediation to ensure that they understand their legal rights and responsibilities, information which is invaluable when making decisions.
HOW IT WORKS: The Mediator will initially meet with each party separately to discuss the issues, and assess whether mediation is right for them. Prior to this meeting, the party will be asked to provide a brief, confidential Mediation Intake Form setting out basic information regarding the parties, their children, the length of the marriage/relationship, and the issues in dispute. The parties will sign an Agreement to Mediate setting out the terms of the mediation, including confidentiality. The Mediator, in consultation with the parties, will decide on a process for the mediation.
After each mediation session, the Mediator will prepare progress notes for the parties setting out tentative agreements, homework, next agenda, and meeting times. The number of mediation sessions varies with the complexity of the issues, the dynamic between and readiness of the parties, and the availability of any required financial information.
When an agreement is reached in mediation, the Mediator will prepare a draft outline of the terms of settlement called a Mediation Summary Report for the parties to review. Once the draft is acceptable to both parties, the Mediator will forward the draft to each party’s lawyer. You do not need to have a lawyer to mediate your family matter, but you do need to obtain independent legal advice before you can finalize an agreement.
The benefits of Family Mediation include:
The Mediator is a neutral facilitator who encourages discussion and negotiation between the parties. From the onset, the Mediator will establish ground rules in order to set the stage for success. The Mediator gathers information through questioning and clarification, narrows in on individual and common interests, assists parties with their communication, encourages understanding, sets agendas, helps parties to explore numerous options, and will always insist on respectful dialogue between the parties.
It is important to appreciate that Mediators are not allowed to offer legal or any other forms of professional advice. While the Mediator can provide you with or direct you to legal information, parties are strongly encouraged to obtain independent legal advice and to consult with other professionals if they are needed. Where needed, the Mediator can help the parties retain neutral experts, including to value property and pensions.
The Mediator may not impose any decision onto the parties and nor do they have any vested interest in the outcome of any decisions which may be made. Rather, any agreement(s) reached, will be determined by the parties themselves.