Mediation in family law is a non-adversarial method where both parties agree to resolve their legal issues without going to court. With the assistance of a neutral third-party (ie. the mediator), the parties have ongoing discussions (with or without their lawyers) until they can reach a settlement and set out the terms in a written agreement. While the role of the mediator is to help the parties reach a settlement, the mediator cannot provide legal advice or impose a settlement. It is important to note that independent legal advice is mandatory (for each party) to make the agreement legally binding. The mediation process occurs in private offices (or virtual) with various types of professionals within the private sector. The parties can also choose the mediator, date, and location of the mediation. Both parties must agree to mediation before starting the process and either party can withdraw at anytime for any reason because participation is voluntary (once started). The process ends when the parties reach a settlement or when a party withdraws from the process.
- Efficient – You can reach a settlement within a few weeks for a few thousand dollars.
- Safe – The mediator will interview both parties separately to ensure the right fit for mediation.
- Choice – You can select a mediator who has expertise relevant to your specific situation.
- Private – Your information is not part of the public record or accessible by the general population (or media).
- Consent – Your (ex)spouse must agree to use mediation.
- Unpredictable – Your (ex)spouse can withdraw at anytime for any reason, despite all the effort, time and money that you may have invested in the process.
Is Mediation Right for You?
Generally, mediation may be appropriate when there is a good level of cooperation between the parties, and it can be most effective when the parties have a mutual desire to settle their legal dispute out of court and/or to maintain an ongoing relationship. Mediation may not be appropriate for some situations, particularly if your (ex)spouse is abusive, uncooperative, unreasonable, elusive and/or has a history of other counterproductive behavioral issues.