What is Mediation?
- Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process for resolving disputes outside of court.
- The Mediator, a neutral third party, will help facilitate communication between the parties in order to reach a mutually agreeable solution.
- Mediation is much more empowering because it provides you with the opportunity to contribute to your own settlement, as opposed to having a resolution imposed by a Judge.
- Mediators can assist in resolving all of your family law issues, including: custody, guardianship and parenting time of the children, property division and support.
- Mediators will not make decisions for you. Instead, they will help you make your own decisions, cooperatively and collaboratively.
For most parties, mediation is found to be preferable to traditional litigation for the following reasons:
- Less stressful and reduces conflict
- Personal involvement in the outcome
- Collaborative approach
- Preservation of relationships
- Focus on children
- Confidential process
- Flexible and comprehensive
- Greater satisfaction
What is the role of a mediator?
- An impartial, neutral third party.
- Someone who will facilitate communication and assist the parties through difficult conversations.
- The mediator will not take sides, but will coach and safely guide the parties through the communication process so they can find their own mutual and balanced solution to their issues.
- The mediator will not make the decisions for you.
What is the mediation process in family law matters?
- Each party will meet with the Mediator alone to provide some background information and determine if mediation is suitable for you and your family.
- The Mediator will take some time to explain the entire mediation process to each party and assist in determining the correct procedure for each particular circumstance.
- Each party will have an opportunity to provide the Mediator and other party with further information they believe is important to the process.
- Since Mediation is predicated on open and honest communication, full disclosure of information is required. This includes exchanging of documents like income tax returns, property assessments, bank statements and other relevant financial documents. What documents are required to be exchanged is something that will be discussed and agreed upon by the parties during the mediation process.
- During the Mediation process, each party will have an opportunity to explain the issues and describe what they think needs to be resolved.
- The parties will continue to have ongoing discussions, with the assistance of the Mediator, until issues are clarified and agreements are reached.
Can anything discussed in mediation be used as evidence in court?
- The settlement discussions that occur during mediation are confidential and cannot be used by either party as evidence in any legal proceedings.
- The mediator cannot be called as a witness in the legal proceedings.
- The only exception is if an agreement is reached during mediation, the terms can be documented in an agreement or memorandum, which can be used to prove that an agreement was reached.
Do mediators provide legal advice?
- Mediators cannot provide legal advice and cannot protect your interests.
- It is advisable to consult with a lawyer before and during the mediation process to get legal advice and guidance so they can make a more informed decision.
- Parties can also attend mediation with their lawyers if that is preferred.
What if the dispute involves complex financial issues?
- Mediation is a proven and successful process to assist with complex issues, including: corporate and business assets, residential and recreational property, pensions and investments, and other complex financial issues.
- Professional resources are available and often utilized, which may include: business valuators, appraisers, financial planners and investment advisors.
What if the dispute involves complex issues regarding our children?
- Mediation can also be a successful process to assist with complex issues regarding children, including custody, guardianship and parenting time.
- Professional resources are available to assist, which may include child psychologists, counsellors, parenting coordinators and other professionals involved with the children.
What are the fees for the services of a Mediator?
- The costs of mediation depend on the length of time required.
- The charges can be on an hourly rate, half day or a full day rates.
- This cost is usually shared equally by both parties but can be an issue to be discussed at mediation.
To discuss whether Mediation is right for you and your family and to find out more about how West Coast ADR Law Group can help achieve a balanced solution for your dispute, please contact a member of our team.