When you choose mediation to resolve family matters surrounding marriage, cohabitation and the breakdown of a relationship at our firm you are choosing to…
Work with a neutral person to facilitate the difficult conversations about the issues that you care about most;
Work with an experienced family mediator who knows the issues you need to address on separation, marriage or cohabitation;
Work together, with help, to create a balanced agreement that works for you and your family.
How does mediation work?
Family mediation is a voluntary process where the parties negotiate a balanced agreement to resolve all of the issues arising from their family matters with the assistance of a neutral facilitator. The mediator will not take sides, nor provide legal advice. The mediator will provide legal information and a forum, based on experience and expertise, to help parties work their way through the negotiation of their agreement.
There are different kinds of family mediation, and what worked for another family may not work for you.
Evaluative mediation is a kind of mediation where your mediator will evaluate all of the claims you are making and provide options for resolution based on what you could expect in law. This is the kind of mediation where parties may expect to prepare mediation briefs setting out the facts as they see them, their goals and their proposals to resolve the issues.
Facilitative mediation is a form of mediation where your mediator will facilitate dialogue with all parties about what is important to you, and help you work toward creating an agreement based on your unique interests and goals (while still within the parameters of family law). Mediation briefs are often not encouraged.
You may choose to have your lawyers present in mediation, or you may attend without lawyers. Attending without lawyers if often less expensive although it is important to obtain independent legal advice before signing an agreement. Sometimes your mediator may suggest that lawyers attend at one or more mediation session with you for a variety of reasons in an effort to move the process forward efficiently.
There are many reasons why people choose family mediation to resolve their family disputes…
Mediation is substantially less expensive than going through the court process
Parties can choose their mediator based on the mediator’s background and experience in the issues that are important to them
All parties are participating in the outcome – this is far preferable to leaving such important decisions to a judge or a third party
While the law always forms the background of any agreement, in mediation parties can structure an agreement that addresses their unique interests and concerns
Mediation creates “buy-in” such that parties are more likely to follow the agreements they have created themselves
A mediated agreement provides a clear process for addressing issues that might come up in the future
What to expect
Marian’s mediation process generally follows the following steps:
All parties who will be mediating will contact our office to set up an appointment (because mediation is a voluntary process we need to hear from everybody who will be mediating before we schedule the mediation).
Marian will meet first with each party separately to learn about their individual goals and concerns, and to screen them to make sure the mediation is structured appropriately to meet their unique needs.
A joint session will be scheduled where parties review their goals and concerns and, with Marian’s help, structure an agenda setting out the items to discuss and resolve including any pressing issues that you want to address right away.
Marian will send out confirming letters after each session setting out what was discussed and any agreements that were made.
Once all issues have been addressed by agreement then Marian will draft a Memorandum of Understanding (in the same form as a separation agreement), which you will take to your respective lawyers for advice and signing. This document becomes your Separation Agreement.
At any point during or before mediation, and at least before an agreement is signed, each party will need to obtain independent legal advice.
Mediation for all family matters
All varieties of family matters can be resolved in mediation. The resulting agreements can be:
Plans for elder care;
Child protection matters; and
Adoption openness agreements
If you have any questions about family mediation at Berry Gage LLP please do not hesitate to contact us.
Ontario Association for Family Mediation https://www.oafm.on.ca/
Ministry of the Attorney General – Family Mediation https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/family/mediation.php