4 Benefits of Mediation for Divorce and Separation
Apr 17, 2021
People choose to separate or divorce for many reasons. In some severe cases, it’s a matter of safety. However, for many of the approximately 50% of couples who divorce, the reasons are less dramatic. For these families, a lengthy trip through the family court system doesn’t make sense when they can participate in mediation instead. It isn’t common knowledge that mediation is the preferred method for settling divorce cases in Ontario, though divorce lawyers recommend it. In fact, with the recent changes to the Divorce Act in Canada, family lawyers are mandated to inform clients about the available options for mediation. This is for good reason since there are a lot of benefits of mediation, not the least of which is keeping you and your family out of stressful courtroom situations. Here are four more benefits of using a mediator to settle a divorce without going to court.
If you’re in the process of getting a divorce, you want it all to happen as quickly as possible. At the onset of the pandemic, Ontario’s family court system was forced to stop in-person proceedings. Since then, cases have been heard on and off as the public health regulations for indoor gatherings have changed. Modernization of the system has been fast-tracked to allow some hearings to be conducted via video or phone. However, thousands of cases, including divorce cases, have been backlogged until the system can resume full functionality.
Even before the pandemic-related delays, other factors were already contributing to a growing backlog, including the increased number of people self-representing in court. These cases tend to proceed very slowly because of a lack of familiarity or understanding of the system. Using mediation instead is a much quicker process. Often cases are resolved in a fraction of the time it takes to complete a case in court.
Mediation isn’t subject to the same resource constraints and scheduling issues as the courts. Mediation sessions tend to be scheduled sooner and completed with fewer delays – even if multiple sessions are needed. At the end of it, you have an agreement that is often more satisfactory to both parties than a decision handed down by a judge.
Preparing to argue a case in court requires a tremendous amount of preparation which ultimately costs the client. On the other hand, mediation requires less preparation time, fewer documents to file, and less paperwork to manage, translating into lower costs. The process is tailored to your own needs. In addition, new information or issues that arise during a court hearing may cause delays, a repeat appearance and more costly prep time. Issues that come up during a mediation session can often be resolved in the same session. From beginning to end, mediation is less labour-intensive for lawyers and less costly for you.
Easier on Everyone, Especially the Kids
Upending your life in the course of a separation and divorce is already disruptive and stressful for adults and children. In court cases, the arguments tend to be antagonistic in nature, breeding even more animosity. Also, consider that it is human nature to want to push back against ‘rules’ imposed upon you (such as in those contained in a court decision) versus those that you agree to yourself. It all adds up to a lot of stress and resentment.
Kids pick up on these negative emotions, making the whole process even more difficult for them. If they are required to be involved in court proceedings, the situation can be even more damaging.
The nature of mediation is much more collaborative. Both sides have the greater ability to present their side of the story and voice their concerns. Mediators have more latitude to ask questions and recommend solutions that best suit the participants, including children. The goal of mediation is to arrive at an agreement that feels fair and satisfactory, which is easier for everyone involved.
Move On More Quickly
When your divorce does not end in a bitter battle over the children, property or money, you’ll have an easier time moving on emotionally, and so will your kids. Children who see their parents able to get along to resolve important parenting decisions tend to be more accepting of the decisions. Kids are less likely to resist or fear the new relationship between you and your ex when your relationship remains civil.
In addition to the benefits of mediation for divorce cases, family lawyers are now required to guide divorce cases towards mediation when appropriate. Mediators are neutral parties who don’t advocate for either side or have the mandate to get a greater share of the settlement for one side or the other. A mediator’s ultimate goal is simply to move the process towards a settlement that everyone can live with.
Contemplating a divorce in the near future? Contact us at (416) 849-5501. Kelly D. Jordan Family Law Firm is here to help you understand your options and can lead you through the mediation process to settle your divorce quickly and comfortably.
Kelly D. Jordan is certified as a specialist in family law. Contact Kelly anytime to talk about the benefits of mediation and dispute resolution to settle a divorce or family law matter, including the division of property and parenting agreements.