What Happens When Mediation Fails?

Sometimes, couples start out with mediation and realize that they are not going to be able to reach an agreement on some key issues. In these situations, the case would then need to be moved to the family courts. When this happens, it’s normal and expected to have questions about how what you may have said or done during the mediation process may influence the court proceedings.

As a general rule, the mediation discussions are considered confidential, even if the mediation was not successful. Any proposals or concessions you made trying to reach an agreement in mediation are not admissible in court. It’s important to understand that this goes both ways. You also will not be able to argue that your spouse agreed to something in mediation, so that should still apply now that the case has been moved to the courts.

Mediators also cannot act as witnesses for either side during the court proceedings. This is important because it ensures that both parties are comfortable talking openly and freely with the mediator when trying to come to an agreement. However, it’s also important to note that mediators cannot and will not provide legal advice. They are considered a neutral third party and also are not responsible for protecting either parties’ best interests.

Whether you are considering using the mediation process or have tried and failed to reach an agreement through mediation, at West Coast ADR Law Group, we can help. Our lawyers work with those going through mediation to ensure they understand any possible consequences of a proposed settlement and help those who wish to move on to the family courts understand what to expect.

How Is Child Support Calculated?

How child support is calculated often feels like a mystery for parties on either side of the child support order. Understanding how child support guidelines work can help both parents better understand how the courts determined the amount and if a modification is possible later on.

In British Columbia, child support orders are generally created by looking at the Federal Child Support Guidelines. The guidelines are set up with specific directions as far as support amounts based on the income of both parents and the number of children involved in the order. Each province also has a specific table that shows what the support amount will be based on the paying parent’s location.

While these tables are available online for parents to view, it’s important to understand that this will not always be exactly what your order comes out to be. There are many reasons that the courts may choose to deviate from the standard guidelines, and these can include if the amount is deemed to create an undue hardship on the paying parent, if the child is over the age of 18 or if the child is no longer in school.

The child support amount may also be different from the guidelines if one parent has an income greater than $150,000 or is incurring extraordinary expenses in the care of the child. A lawyer who deals with family law can help you understand whether you have any grounds to request a deviation from the standard child support guidelines for your province and how you may be able to use the mediation process to come to an agreement.

Source: Legal Services Society, “What the child support guidelines are and how they work,” accessed July 30, 2015

Parental Involvement More Likely After Collaborative Divorce

As Father’s Day goes by year after year, there are many children of divorced parents missing their fathers and feeling forgotten. It’s not that some of these fathers don’t want to be with their children, but often conflict with the child’s mother just makes it easier to stay away. Of course, in some situations, this is reversed, and it is the mother who no longer is a vital part of their children’s lives.

One way that couples planning a divorce can make sure this doesn’t happen with their children is by opting for a collaborative divorce. In a traditional divorce, one parent is often set against the other. Even if the divorce started out amiably enough, it can turn ugly before the divorce process is over. All communication often stops between the spouses, and the attorneys are only interested in coming out ahead for their client. Once the divorce is complete, the two parties may not even be speaking.

This is the worst thing that can happen when children are involved. Children can feel their parents’ hostility towards one another, and often get drug right into the middle of it. Parents may try to punish each other by using the children as a ploy. Hopefully, this doesn’t happen and the parents always put their children’s needs first; however, nine times out of 10, if the divorce is hostile, that doesn’t happen.

The goal in a divorce should be to regroup and restructure the family for the best outcome for the children and the parents going forward. This is why collaborative divorce is often the best option. In a collaborative divorce, both spouses are encouraged to express their needs and come to a compromise on divorce issues, including custody and visitation with the children. As they work together with mediation-trained attorneys and other professionals as needed, such as financial advisors or mental health professionals, they are able to communicate their feelings and often end their marriage with better feelings towards one another.

This is a win-win situation for all. The parents both stay more involved with their children when they work together with the other parent. A husband or wife is also more apt to pay any agreed-upon child support. In the long run, the children are more emotionally stable as they grow into adulthood.

Source: Benzinga.com, “Collaborative Divorce Option Recommended This Father’s Day for Divorced Dads to Stay Close to Their Children,” June 16, 2015

What Happens if a Parenting Time Order isn’t Followed?

When a parenting time order is issued, parents are expected to follow the order. While there are some exceptions to this, failing to follow a parenting time order is considered serious business. Legal action can occur if a parent doesn’t follow the parenting time orders.

What are the exceptions to having to follow a parenting time order?

There is a variety of reasons why a parent could legally deny another parent parenting time. For example, if a parent has a valid reason to believe that the child will be harmed if parenting time is allowed, parenting time can be denied. If the parent who is supposed to get the child is drunk or otherwise impaired, parenting time can be denied. Failure to pay child support payments isn’t a valid reason for a parent to deny the other parent parenting time.

What can the court do when parenting time is denied?

There are several options the court has when parenting time is denied. The court can fine the parent who denied the parenting time or require that parent to pay the other parent. The court can set up a new schedule for the parent to make up time with the child. The court can order that the parent who denied parenting time pay for any expenses incurred because of the denial. The court can also order counselling or dispute resolution to solve the issues that led to parenting time denial.

What if a parent refuses to participate in parenting time?

The court can take action in that case since it is a hardship on the child when a parent doesn’t show up for parenting time. In some cases, counselling might be ordered for the parents, the child or all parties. The parent who didn’t show up for parenting time might have to pay for childcare, lost wages and travel expenses the other parent incurred because of the missed parenting time.

Parents have a duty to care for their children. If you are having issues with parenting time orders, explore what options you have to correct those issues so that you can get the situation resolved.

Source: Justice BC, “What can I do if the other parent doesn’t follow the agreement or order about parenting time or contact?,” accessed July 09, 2015

What are the Duties of an Arbitrator?

The law clearly outlines the duties and responsibilities of an arbitrator, and understanding these guidelines can help divorcing couples ensure they are familiar with what usually happens in an arbitration. Arbitrators often decide the when and where of the happenings related to the arbitration. This can include the actual schedule and meeting place of the arbitration itself as well as where witnesses will be heard or where any applicable documents or property will be presented for inspection.

Arbitrators can also require someone to attend the arbitration to give evidence or appoint an expert to come in and give testimony on any relevant issues. An arbitrator also has some control over financial matters. The arbitrator can decide how the costs associated with the arbitration will be handled and also has the power to award either prejudgment or post-judgment interest.

It’s important to understand that while arbitration is a fairly formal proceeding, it is not the same as going through the family courts. However, it does have many benefits, including making it easier for couples to get through the family law process much quicker than if they would have used the traditional courts. It also allows the couple to choose an arbitrator that may be more familiar with their needs and family history.

If you are interested in an arbitration or aren’t sure what to look for in an arbitrator or how to prepare for the process, talking with a lawyer can help you gather the information you need to make the best decision moving forward.

Source: FindLaw, “The arbitration process,” accessed July 17, 2015