How will hiring a mediator help me with my family law issue? What is the child mediation process?
Separation and divorce processes are complicated matters that often occur in a myriad of social and emotional experiences for everyone involved.
Mediation is often considered for people who can work with a neutral third-party individual who has little to no emotional investment or attachment to the problems at hand.
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This impartiality and emotional distance often provide the clarity of mind and fairness required to develop a consensus-based model for the division of financial and physical goods held in common.
Certified family mediators have taken specialized courses in mediation processes and generally have backgrounds in social work, law, education, and health care.
Need to start the child mediation process? Contact us.
Registered master-level social workers with child and family expertise and training are often best suited to mediate family law matters involving children and adolescents.
Sensitive to the needs of minors, Social Workers will centralize the needs of children in mediation processes and outcomes.
If mediation fails, the family lawyers can go to court for you. If you win your case your spouse might have to pay your legal fees.
You can see a sample mediation agreement here —> Collaborative Process Agreement
Please get legal advice before signing any type of agreement, even if you created it.
Mediation Process and Family Law Mediators
Often less expensive than lawyers, mediators are highly trained individuals who usually also have extensive collaborative counselling experiences required to ensure that everyone’s perspective is heard and validated in the process.
Of course, not everyone will “get their way” in mediation, however, it is critical that everyone “has their say”.
Where people in a family do not feel that their particular perspective or wish has been heard by the mediator, then the process is not likely to yield the positive results that people are hoping to achieve.
Unlike lawyers, mediators are engaged with the expectation that they do not “take sides”.
Again, individuals who are fully engaged in their family and wish to separate or divorce without causing any more emotional harm expected when families grow apart.
The need to feel that their opinions, experiences, desires, and wishes have been heard and validated first by the mediator.
Where people believe that a mediator exhibits preferential treatment to one person’s point of view in the family, then the process is also unlikely to yield results that will hold over the long term.
What does the child mediation process look like?
In general, mediation is a process whereby your mediator meets with every member of the family individually and where recommended in smaller groups or dyads.
It is the job of this impartial person to listen to the opinions of all members of the family, to gather information and facts shared, and then to use this information to help everyone develop a plan that works for all involved.
Where a mediator is procured to assist with the entire divorce proceeding, then individuals agree to provide all their personal financial information, holdings, and reasons for separation and divorce to the mediator.
A mediated agreement will be developed in the form of a report, which is sealed by the signatures of the adults involved. A divorce mediation process is as legally binding as an agreement created by lawyers.
Most mediators will help families generate a few variations of the same basic plan. These plans may be related to any one of the several potential issues related to separation and divorce.
Further, this includes the fair division of financial investments, properties, pensions, and often-heated issues related to child custody and access.
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Most people have a good idea about what they believe will be fairest for them. They decide this after speaking to a lawyer about their separation or divorce.
Of course, these subjective plans are often biased. It is the role of the mediator to provide a safe and trusted forum.
Here, feelings can be unpacked, discussed, challenged, and reviewed. They can rewrite, amend, or append the plan. Mediation ends when everyone in the family agrees that the plan is workable. All parties think it’s worth a try for an agreed-upon period.
After which it is re-evaluated either with the services of a mediator or independently.
Need to learn more about the child mediation process? You can reach out to us via the live chat function in the bottom right of the screen.
What happens if it fails?
Mediation fails when family members involved in the process cannot agree with the plan or several iterations of the plan.
Sometimes, this failure happens during the mediation process. People have the option to cancel the mediation process. They can then reconnect with a lawyer. They can push for a temporary, interim, or final rendering.
This can be done in family court by a judge or justice of the peace. Mediated agreements are best described as legally binding.
Where successfully implemented, they are affordable fair solutions. It concludes separation and divorce proceedings. Divorce is all too often acrimonious and painful for everyone involved.
Are you looking for mediation in Ontario? Are you afraid of what a judge may order regarding your family law matter?
What if you do not have the money to pay monthly lawyer bills? Multiple trips to the family court to try and obtain court orders on multiple issues can get very expensive.
You should seek the services of your lawyer to enter into negotiations or mediation on your behalf.
Mediation is a day or multiple days
Mediation is a day or multiple days of intensive meetings between yourself, your lawyer, your former spouse, and their lawyer as well as a licensed mediator.
Unlike court, this process is focused on both parties speaking directly about what they want and need to help move on from the former relationship.
Mediation is less intimidating compared to the typical court process. A mediator helps to guide the discussions but they cannot make a ruling or a court order.
As such, there is less of a burden on each party to present all of their relevant facts in a short timeframe.
Mediators are also helpful as it is their focus to try and have the parties think of solutions specific to their circumstances.
This is often different than family judges who are forced to follow court decisions and legislation. They come up with court orders that are not always effective for day-to-day issues.
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The mediation process typically lasts 3 or 4 days depending on the number of issues the parties need to resolve. Mediation can also be cancelled or rescheduled if additional information needs to be obtained.
If you and your former spouse are relatively amicable with each other, you can both attend mediation with a lawyer who can act to provide both of you with their perspective on how to proceed with your legal issues.
This is done in a confidential environment. If you are unable to resolve your issues then the lawyer overseeing your mediation will not be able to represent either party if the issues have to go to court to be dealt with.
If you are thinking of beginning court proceedings but are unsure if mediation might be better for you, make sure to discuss your options with a lawyer to help you with this important decision.
Author: Alistair Vigier is the CEO of ClearWay Law