Family Law Mediation
Mediation is a non-adversarial private process used by two parties to achieve an amicable settlement of their family law dispute in a manner that satisfies each party that their particular objectives have been sufficiently accomplished and their rights have been sufficiently protected.
Unlike litigation, where the parties publicly argue their dispute in court before a judge who will determine the ultimate outcome, mediation requires the parties to communicate and persuade each other of the merits and fairness of their respective positions and desired settlement of their divorce or family law matter.
Ultimately, mediation is another forum for parties to continue negotiating their dispute. However, unlike other methods of negotiation, mediation offers the benefit of a neutral setting, the additional resources and support of the mediator, and the opportunity to more actively participate in the process.
The Role of a Mediator
A mediator is an impartial third-party who attempts to assist the parties in a family law matter achieve a mutually beneficial and satisfactory settlement of some or all of their dispute(s). The mediator works with both parties to facilitate open, productive, and civil communication, assist the parties to explore solutions that they have not yet considered, and encourage compromise. The mediator manages the mediation process and environment, but not the parties or their dispute.
A mediator is neither a judge nor an advocate for any party. It is critical that every party in a mediation understand that the mediator will not make binding decisions regarding the parties’ dispute, will not provide them with legal advice, and will not “take a side.”
The Role of a Mississauga Family and Divorce Lawyer
A family and divorce lawyer must act for their client in a zealous manner regardless of the forum in which they represent them. In the context of mediation, a lawyer’s role is to explain the mediation process and to thoroughly prepare their client for it. The lawyer must also advise their client regarding the law so that the client understands both their personal rights and responsibilities and also understands their former spouse’s rights and responsibilities.
The lawyer will also perform the preparatory work necessary to conduct a successful mediation. It is very likely that the parties’ lawyers will assist in selecting the parties’ mediator, as most individuals have never participated in a mediation and do not personally know any mediators. The lawyer will make sure that all necessary financial disclosure has been requested and obtained so that their client can make informed, considered decisions. And both parties’ lawyers will also draft their respective mediation briefs. A mediation brief is a document that each party prepares and submits to the mediator and the other party that outlines the disputed issues between the parties and the facts relevant to those issues in an objective tone.
Importantly, a family and divorce lawyer will not conduct the mediation on behalf of their client nor will the lawyer present arguments in favour of their client during the process. This type of adversarial representation is reserved for more traditional negotiation like a four-way meeting or for litigation before a judge in court. Instead the family and divorce lawyer will be present to support and advise the client while they communicate and attempt to resolve their matter with their former spouse.
The Role of the Client
In a mediation, the clients advocate on their own behalf and endeavour to find common ground with their former spouse. As a result, the parties to a family law dispute must be active and engaged participants if mediation is to succeed. Mediation is ultimately directed by the parties and requires them to understand, appreciate, and respect the mediation process. If either or both parties are not committed to resolving their dispute in a non-confrontational manner, mediation will not be productive and, in fact, will be a costly and likely futile exercise.
The mediator and the parties’ lawyers provide guidance, support, and advice, but the parties play a critical role in any mediation and both parties must be committed to compromise, to listen to and consider their former spouse’s thoughts, concerns, and desires, and to communicate with their former spouse in an open and respectful manner in order to achieve a successful outcome.
Benefits of Mediation vs Litigation
If both parties are genuinely open to mediation, the process offers many benefits when compared to litigation:
- It is cost-effective—litigation is virtually guaranteed to cost several times more in legal fees.
- It is private and informal—litigation is a public endeavour and it typically involves many court appearances, significant paperwork, and rigid deadlines.
- It is less stressful—litigation is adversarial, while mediation is designed to encourage cooperation and understanding.
- It is faster—litigation invariably takes many, many months, if not years to complete, while mediation can take a few weeks to a couple of months before a settlement is reached.
- You have greater control over the separation and/or divorce process—mediation is simply another form of negotiation, so you have much greater control over the process, whereas in litigation, a judge will likely decide the final outcome of your case.
Contact an Experienced Mississauga Divorce Mediation Lawyer
Amiri Family Law has represented many individuals involved in a separation, divorce, and other family disputes in Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, Milton, and the Greater Toronto Area.
We seek amicable, cost-effective agreements wherever possible and are ready and able to assist clients with family and divorce mediation. However, if a mediated settlement is not possible, we are also skilled divorce litigators.
Call or email us to schedule a free consultation with a local family and divorce lawyer in Mississauga. Our local offices also service Oakville, Burlington, and Milton. If you choose to engage our services, we will guide you through the mediation process with the advice, support, and guidance you need to reach a settlement that works for you and your family.
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