I keep hearing about Mediation…is this for me?

November 1st, 2011 by

Mediation is a process whereby the parties meet with a neutral third party mediator to try to resolve the issues between them that they are unable to resolve on their own.  The mediator is not allowed to make a decision regarding the issues in dispute.  Rather, the mediator’s role is to assist in facilitating an agreement that the parties come up with themselves.  If the parties reach an agreement at mediation, the agreement will become part of a Memorandum of Understanding and later, will form part of a Separation Agreement.  While the terms of a Separation Agreement are binding, if no agreement is reached in the mediation process, in most cases, neither party can use whatever was said during the process against the other in a different process, such as court. 

Whether or not your family law matter can proceed by way of mediation depends on a couple of things:

Firstly, it depends on whether your spouse is agreeable to proceeding through the mediation process. If both parties are not entering into the mediation process voluntarily, the process will likely fail. 

Secondly, if there is any form of domestic violence or a power imbalance that would lead one party to intimidate or compel the other into making an agreement they may not otherwise want to make, the mediation process cannot move forward.  The mediator will be trained to screen for these power imbalances.

People going through a difficult separation are often drawn to a process, such as mediation, which allows them to be in control of the decisions that are directly affecting their family, as opposed to having a judge impose a decision on them (typically after waiting for months, or years, for this to happen). You may choose to have your lawyer very involved or less involved in the mediation, depending on the complexity of your case.  Even if your lawyer is involved in all aspects of mediation, mediation is almost always a cheaper and quicker alternative to court.  This may be the route for you.  Please give our family law team a call to discuss this and other alternative dispute resolution options available.

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