Understanding Mediation in Family Law

Understanding Mediation in Family Law

The process of going through court is not only time-consuming, but it is also financially and emotionally draining. If your case is appropriate for mediation, and both parties are willing to participate, trying mediation before initiating a court application can be beneficial.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution and is commonly used in many areas of law to settle disputes. Family law uses mediation quite frequently as a tool to help separating couples work out their support or child payments, visitation arrangements and property division.

Mediation is an informal meeting of the two parties together with a neutral, third party mediator. A mediator is often a lawyer, psychologist, or a social worker, however when acting as a mediator, they cannot assist the parties with their other regular professional skills. During a mediation session, the mediator will help the parties work through their problems by being a neutral observer and offering unbiased opinions, steering the parties towards a solution. They are not there to judge who is right or who is wrong, and they are not permitted to offer legal advice in this capacity. Sometimes the presence of a mediator is all that is needed for both parties to get their positions, but also feelings out on the table, and to reach a resolution.

Seek Independent Legal Advice

It is advisable that participants in mediation obtain legal advice before attending a mediation session to ensure they are properly informed of their rights throughout the process. You may also wish to retain a lawyer to attend mediation with you.

If you are able to come to an agreement during your mediation session, the mediator may write out terms of agreement, or a mediation report summarizing what was discussed. However, before signing anything, it is important to review the terms with a lawyer. Once an agreement is fully executed by all parties it is binding and must be followed.

A Voluntary Dispute Resolution Process

Mediation is completely voluntary, meaning either party can leave at any point during a mediation session. It is also important to know that mediation is not right for every circumstance. If your situation involves violence, abuse, or intimidation then mediation may be inappropriate, as a fair agreement cannot be reached if one party feels threatened by the other. For many other cases however, mediation can be beneficial, saving parties both time and legal fees. Have a discussion with your lawyer if you think mediation is the best route for you to pursue.

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The material on our website/blog is intended to provide only general information to the public and our existing clients. This information cannot under any circumstances be relied on as legal advice. To obtain legal advice, or to learn how the information on this website may or may not apply in your situation, please contact our office to speak with one of our lawyers.