Privacy and Family Dispute Mediation
May 26, 2022
We’ve talked a lot about family dispute mediation in our blogs. While family law mediation is not mandatory in Ontario, couples must think about using alternative dispute resolution, or a family dispute resolution process to resolve issues out of court if it is suitable.
There are many reasons a couple that is separating or divorcing may wish to choose family dispute mediation. One key reason is privacy.
Whether or not you follow celebrity news, it’s difficult to avoid the current media frenzy around a certain celebrity divorce. To many, this represents a worst-case scenario – the details of your private lives being aired publicly in court.
The good news is that not many separation and divorce cases receive this level of public scrutiny. However, if you choose to go to court to settle your dispute, much of your life – including financial information – could be entered into court records and available for the public to see.
How is Mediation More Private than Court?
There are two types of mediation, open and closed. Family dispute mediation is considered “closed” unless both parties agree that it should be open.
In open mediation, if you go to court, documents and details from the mediation sessions can be shared openly.
In a closed mediation, the mediation is private and confidential. Lawyers and parties involved in the mediation sessions cannot share the discussions from the mediation session. This means there’s a greater chance of privacy when you choose family dispute mediation.
It’s important to note that exceptions can be made to privacy even in closed mediation sessions, for example if safety of a child is involved.
There have also been cases of a “settlement exception”, where parties in mediation are allowed to reference mediation documents in court if the mediated contract is identified as non-binding. Getting advice from an experienced family lawyer can help ensure your confidentiality and privacy is protected during mediation.
Why Family Dispute Mediation?
Mediation is not the only method of alternative dispute resolution. There are many ways people can work to resolve issues related to separation or divorce, including negotiation, collaborative law and arbitration.
In addition to the benefits of privacy and confidentiality, studies of mediation show clear benefits with quicker resolutions, decreased costs, and generally higher levels of satisfaction amongst participants.
Mediation also opens the lines of communication, helping to maintain or even improve relationships between the two parties. While court cases can increase animosity, mediation encourages open communication and agreement.
This two-way dialogue can help uncover areas of common ground, meaning once the divorce is settled, it can be easier to settle into a new relationship and begin your new life on a more positive footing.
Finding a Mediator
Family law mediators can be qualified lawyers or trained non-lawyers. We recommend that they be accredited with an organization like the Ontario Association of Family Mediators or the Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario.
Choosing the right family dispute mediator is an important decision. How do you choose the right mediator for your case?
- Look at their experience and qualifications.
- Seek a mediator who has experience with your issues. For example, if mental health concerns are involved, you may wish to see a mediator who specializes in psychology or psychiatry.
- Ask for references and read reviews.
- Book a consultation with a potential mediator and assess their style. Ensure you choose a mediator that both parties can be comfortable with.
- Consider the costs. Mediation costs range from an hourly rate of $500 and up.
Kelly Jordan – Experienced Family Lawyer, Skilled Family Law Mediator
From her decades of experience helping families through divorce, Kelly Jordan understands the emotional toll divorce can take on families. Kelly handles issues such as parenting, finances, property division, child support and spousal support with empathy and understanding. She knows that when both parties involved in family dispute mediation come to mutually-beneficial agreement, they are more likely to stick to the terms of the agreement. If you’re interested in family law mediation, use our online form to book a free 10-minute phone call with Kelly.
Government of Canada Fact Sheet – Family dispute resolution: resolving family law issues out of court