What is Mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary process designed to bring people in conflict together to work out solutions to their differences. The meeting is facilitated by a trained, neutral called a “mediator”. The mediation process allows both parties equal control of the process and the decisions reached. The need for consensus creates a dynamic that focuses on solutions without escalating conflict. This means that the rate of compliance, acceptance and commitment to the decisions reached and agreements entered into, is much greater than would otherwise be the case.

You do not need to hire a lawyer to represent you in a mediation. You are however, advised to consult with a family lawyer before starting mediation to ensure that you are aware of your legal rights and obligations.

What kinds of family issues can be mediated?

Any issues can be resolved with the use of mediation. The mediation process is completely based on consent. Therefore, the issues mediated are only limited to what the participants will allow.

Can “co-habitation” or “prenuptial’ agreements be meditated?

At the start of, or even during, a relationship, a couple may want to enter into a “co-habitation” or “prenuptial” agreement to ensue that they are both fully aware of each other’s expectations of how their relationship will work financially. The negotiation of such contracts, either by mediation or in a collaborative negotiation offers couples a means of crafting an agreement between themselves in an efficient way and in a forum that allows both of them to voice their concerns and objectives directly. Following are some examples of the types of questions which couples may want to understand and have an agreement on:

  • When does “your” house become “our” house?
  • What are we each financially responsible for?
  • Do we expect to have children together?
  • What if we do have a child (or more) together and one of us can’t work?
  • If the relationship ever ends, how do we determine what’s “yours” and what’s “mine”?
  • Are we pursuing financial goals “together”, or only “together on somethings”?
  • Does “your” interest in your family’s company become “our” interest in it after we’re together?
Can we mediate our separation?

At the end of a relationship, a couple’s focus shifts to questions about how to disentangle from each other while continuing to meet their respective financial and parenting obligations. These agreements are referred to as “Separation Agreements”. Mediation and the collaborative negotiation allow couples to explore and resolve questions such as these by working together to craft solutions that best fit the specific dynamics, concerns and realities of their family:

  • What’s yours and what’s mine?
  • What happens to the assets and liabilities we created together?
  • What happens to the loan’s I guaranteed or co-signed with you?
  • Who keeps the house?
  • Where will our child, or children live? Who will they live with? What will be each of our roles in our children’s lives? Will I still have a role?
  • What are our financial responsibilities to our children?
  • Will I get, or have to pay, spousal support?
If I hire a lawyer to mediate, who does the lawyer represent?

As a lawyer, when I am acting as mediator, I do not take sides, provide legal advice or make decisions. My role as mediator is to guide the process and facilitate the communication to allow the couple to reach their own solutions tailored to their unique situation. A mediator, whether a lawyer or not, does not make or impose decisions the way that a judge would.

The advantage of a lawyer acting as your mediator is that I have the experience and legal training to be able to inform you both on the legal process; and, in the end I am able to draft a legally binding agreement for each of you to review with your own counsel before signing.

What are some advantages of mediation?

By mediating, parties save time and money. Mediation is often less time consuming and less expensive than litigation. The parties don’t need lawyers. The process, including the time and date of meetings are driven by the participant’s schedules rather than that of the Courts.

Mediation minimizes conflict and stressors that can spill over to the parent-child relationship, corrode the ongoing relationship between the parties, and minimizes future conflicts.

Mediation allows the parties to create solutions that best fit their realities, and which align with their values and goals, and as such are more likely to be followed without having to resort to the courts.

Mediation allows the parties to explore the underlying reasons, fears and concerns each of the parties has thereby allowing for solutions which are meaningful and more likely to be implemented.

The advantage of a lawyer acting as your mediator is that I have the experience and legal training to be able to inform you both on the legal process; and, in the end I am able to draft a legally binding agreement for each of you to review with your own counsel before signing.

What if we cannot agree during the mediation?

Couples may struggle with agreeing on some matters, but most couples recognize the wisdom of compromising. With the help of an experienced mediator, most clients reach agreements on all or most of the issues between them, thereby reducing or eliminating the need for costly litigation.

If we are both willing to mediate, what are the next steps?

Once you’ve both agreed to try to resolve as many of your issues as possible by mediation, I will invite each of you, to attend an intake session, separately from each other.

The purpose of the intake is to:

  • Allow each of you to ensure that you are comfortable with me as your mediator;
  • Allow the me an opportunity to understand each person’s view of the issues and desired outcomes;
  • Allow me and you to determine what, if anything, should be done during the mediation to ensure that you each feel safe and confident during the mediation.

After your individual intakes, we will book a date and time that is convenient to you both for the mediation.

What if one of us does not want to mediate?

Mediation, outside of the litigation process, is purely voluntary. If mediation does not suit, then you may want to consider a collaborative negotiation or litigation.