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Is mediation right for you?

Mediation is growing as a preferred method of dispute resolution in Ontario. Mediation is generally considered more effective, affordable and faster than other methods of resolution. Despite this, mediation is not for everyone.

Family and divorce mediation involves you, your spouse and a neutral third party mediator (preferably one knowledgeable in family law) sitting down and discussing your goals for the divorce. Both parties meet the mediator separately and go over all the issues that need to be addressed. The mediator helps both sides find a solution that suits their particular situation. The mediator does not decide anything for you or enforce anything upon you. The outcome of your mediation rests in the hands of you and your spouse.  If you are not satisfied with the solutions suggested by the mediator, the case must then move on to a different method of dispute resolution, be it arbitration, litigation or collaborative law.

The only way for mediation to work as a concept is if both parties are willing to negotiate, compromise and resolve their conflict in a civil manner. If one or both parties cannot work together on any level then mediation is likely not going to work.  It is up to you whether your lawyer is present or not, for all or part of the mediation.   You don’t necessarily have to sit in the same room as your spouse or confront your spouse directly.

Mediation may be difficult for you if:

  • You are expecting a long drawn custody battle
  • If either of you is entrenched in a position
  • If either of you is taking a position based on “principle only”
  • In some cases of intimate partner violence where the power balance can’t be rectified through other means

On the other hand, you should consider mediation if:

  • You are looking for an affordable divorce
  • If you do not want to draw out your divorce proceedings over a long period
  • If you want to end your marriage amicably
  • If you are considering joint parenting
  • If you want to make your divorce easier on your children
  • If you want more control over your decisions

You know your relationship better than anyone. Ask yourselves these questions when you consider mediation:

  • Are we willing to put our egos aside to come to an agreement?
  • Are we able to be civil with one another?
  • Will we be able to follow the guidelines we set for ourselves in our separation agreement?
  • Do we have a level of fundamental trust.

If the answers to these four questions are yes, then you should consider hiring a family or divorce mediator who is well-versed in family law and can guide you both to a fair and reasonable resolution.