Laura Kanaan – February 2016
Mediation is an effective dispute resolution tool available to people who require assistance resolving family law issues. Mediation involves the use of a neutral, third party mediator who meets with both participants, individually and together to identify and narrow the issues that need to be resolved, and the information necessary to the parties to make decision. The mediator will lead a series of discussions between the participants, which will ultimately form the basis for their agreement.
Mediation is gaining popularity as many people are seeking a less adversarial, more co-operative process to solve family law issues. The mediator facilitates a conversation that allows parties to reach an agreement. A mediator can provide an evaluation of the potential range of outcomes in a case. However, the mediator does not make binding decisions. Therefore, mediation requires that all participants be there voluntarily, and be committed to working towards an agreement.
Mediators can assist people in negotiating a broad range of agreements, including co-habitation agreements, marriage contracts (“prenups”), separation agreements. Mediation topics can include a much broader range of issues than those covered in a court litigation model. Mediators can address traditional issues such as parenting, support, division of property, as well as less traditional issues such custody of family pets. The participants can be the authors of their own process which allows for more flexible and tailored agreements.
Mediation participants exchange the necessary, and often sensitive, information within the mediation process. This allows participants to retain privacy over the exchange of personal information.
The participants will retain control over the pace of the process because they will book the mediation meetings in conjunction with the mediator on a timeline that all parties are comfortable with.
Once an agreement is reached, it is distilled into a legally binding contract. Both parties will still need to obtain independent legal advice on their agreement at the conclusion of the mediation.
- Identify the issues to be resolved
- Assist the participants in identifying the information necessary to make decisions
- Facilitate a discussion about each participant’s interests
- Assist the participants in generating ideas that could form the basis of their agreement
- Evaluate a range of potential outcomes
- Provide legal advice to either participant
- Take sides with either participant
- Make binding decisions
- Flexibility in range of issues that can be addressed
- Unique, tailored agreements
- Control over the pace
- Less adversarial than traditional litigation