In mediation, you and your spouse work with a person who is specially trained to help you reach an agreement.
A family law mediator will assist families in a formal dispute resolution process to resolve family law issues after separation.
A mediator can help you and your spouse come to an agreement together; the mediator will not make decisions for you. Mediators are neutral and do not give you legal advice.
It is sometimes helpful to get independent legal advice before you start mediation so you know what might be fair for you under the law. We recommend you get independent legal advice before making an agreement.
There are many ways to set up mediation, depending on your needs. Often both people are in the room with the mediator. But in some cases this might not be appropriate. There are also options for modified processes such as “shuttle mediation” where the mediator goes back and forth between both people, or distance mediation where the mediation takes place over the phone or Internet.
You can get a mediator to try to solve your dispute out of court. If you go to court, a judge can order you to try mediation to see if you can come to an agreement.
Starting Jan. 1, 2014 family law mediators must meet Family Law Act minimum training and practice standards. They must have at least two years experience in a family-related field and take specified training in family law, mediation theory and skills development, and family violence.
Some mediators belong to organizations which already have similar standards. Before hiring a mediator, it is a good idea to ask about their qualifications.
Finding a mediator
Many family lawyers are also mediators. The Canadian Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service can refer you to a lawyer who is a family law mediator.