What is Divorce Mediation?

Divorce mediation is a process in which you and your spouse meet with a mediator to try to resolve the issues arising from your separation, such as support, property division and child custody. The same process is used in Ontario and in all provinces across Canada.

A mediator can be quite helpful because they are a neutral third party whose expertise is to help you and your spouse work towards a solution that is agreeable to you both. You and your spouse may meet with your mediator once a week for an hour or two until a resolution can be reached on all issues, or until the mediator deems that further mediation won’t result in a resolution.

Even if you already have a lawyer, mediation makes sense. As well, if you are not comfortable attending mediation on your own, your mediator can attend with you.

The Success Of Divorce Mediation

With a skilled mediator, divorce mediation is normally very successful, especially regarding the issues of child custody and access. The reality is that you and your ex know what’s best for your children better than any judge or lawyer ever will. I’ve personally seen many very acrimonious cases settle through mediation, cases that were so acrimonious that I was quite surprised that they could be resolved short of an expensive trial.

Divorce Mediation Reduces the Pain and Expense Of Divorce

Mediation is a great tool that is much quicker and cheaper than the legal system. You can start at any point in your case – ideally at the beginning but it is never too late to start.

A mediated agreement is much more flexible and can go into much greater detail than anything a judge would order.

Mediation is especially helpful when you have children. You’re going to have to work with the other parent until your children are in their early twenties, and even after that, you’ll need to deal with the other parent on family occasions (your children’s weddings, birth of your grandchildren, etc). In the circumstances, it’s best to try to have as cordial and cooperative relationship as possible with your ex. It’s hard to do this when you’re testifying each against each other in court. Mediation is much more conducive to preserving your co-parenting relationship.

If mediation between you and your spouse isn’t possible, or breaks down, normally you’ll go to court, which is an expensive, slow and painful process.

How Much Does Mediation Cost?

If you are not using your lawyer, then there is only the fee of the mediator. Depending on where you live in Canada, the going rate can range from $200 to $400 per hour. This fee can be split equally between you and your ex, or sometimes where there is a large income disparity, the fee will be split in proportion to the parties’ incomes. I don’t recommend that anyone pay all the fees as otherwise there is no cost incentive to settle.

Don’t Refuse Mediation

As long as there hasn’t been domestic violence in your relationship, mediation should normally be your first avenue for resolving your divorce case.

Even if there has been abuse in your relationship, I still think mediation is worth a try. Mediators are normally skilled at recognizing abusive relationships and in any event, always try to ensure that neither party is coerced into agreeing to something they don’t want.

Even if you don’t think mediation will work, it’s always worth a try. The savings in energy and money are so large if mediation is successful that even if there’s a large chance of failure, it can still be worth the attempt.

Many people don’t even want to try mediation because they believe that a judge will lean in their favour. But lawyers are skilled at making simple issues complex, and family law is not all as black and white as it may appear. In the circumstances, it normally doesn’t make sense to turn down the opportunity to mediate. I strongly recommend it.

Even if money is not an issue for you, your money is better spent elsewhere than on expensive legal proceedings that could have been resolved through mediation. If mediation fails and you’re forced to go to court, most people are surprised at just how quickly legal fees mount – easily into the tens of thousands of dollars.

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