What is Mediation?
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process in which a neutral third party, the mediator, assists the parties in their negotiations towards a settlement of their family law issues. It is a voluntary process, which means that the parties make a conscious and informed choice to participate and to act in good faith in order to reach their goal of negotiating a mutually acceptable settlement of their family law issues.
What is the Role of the Mediator?
The role of the mediator is to:
- assist the parties with the negotiation of a resolution of their family law issues in dispute.
- be a facilitator and structure the discussion as a neutral third party in order to enable the parties to determine the outcome that is best for them and their children, if applicable.
- provide the parties with general information about the law to address any procedural concerns and create an environment where the parties are both comfortable with the legal concepts and terminology in order to effectively participate in the mediation process.
- set the tone and establish rapport in order to develop skills to improve communication between the parties.
- help the parties identify the issues in dispute from both their perspectives and assist them in communicating their concerns.
- ensure that the issues and concerns addressed by the parties are exchanged between them in a fair, balanced and respectful manner.
- help the parties generate creative and productive solutions to resolve their issues in dispute by broadening the discussion and maintaining the focus on the parties’ goal of reaching and signing a temporary, partial or final agreement.
The mediator will NOT:
- have the authority to make decisions about how the issues in dispute between the parties should or must be resolved.
- act as a judge or arbitrator.
- provide a legal opinion about the parties’ respective legal rights and/or legal obligations.
Here is a video from the United Kingdom’s National Family Mediation Service that provides a visual as well as easy to understand explanation of the mediation process. Please note that mediation in Ontario is a prerequisite to court proceedings, which may be commenced at any time before, during or after the mediation process.
I am a trained mediator and would be pleased to assist you. Please contact me in order to provide me with the necessary information in order to commence the mediation process.
What is an Early Neutral Consultation?
An Early Neutral Consultation is a structured information meeting with a neutral professional (legal, parenting or financial professional) for couples going through relationship and/or marriage breakdown. It provides couples with legal information specific to their family’s unique needs. It is a joint session of approximately 1.5 hours in duration where couples listen to the information presented to them by the consultant and have the opportunity to ask questions and clarifications with the knowledge that they are not making any decisions or negotiating during the consultation. At the couple’s request, the consultant may also provide the couple with referrals and contacts to legal, parenting and financial professionals, which may be able to further assist them based on their family’s unique circumstances and according to their needs and wishes.
What is the Goal of an Early Neutral Consultation?
The goal of an Early Neutral Consultation is to empower couples to understand the separation and divorce process as well as the ranges of reasonable options. It is to provide couples with the information and knowledge base to enable them to move forward on the same path. By learning the same information during the joint session, the couple will save time as well as family resources both emotional and financial once they choose and commence a dispute resolution process. This consultation therefore assists the couple in organizing and planning their separation and/or divorce to ultimately lead to a temporary, partial or final agreement. Lastly, the couple will learn about cooperation, out-of-court settlements and which of the dispute resolution processes and professionals will be best to meet their needs depending on their unique family circumstances.
The following Information First Model will be used throughout the joint session as developed and taught by the Family Law Pathways Centre.
I am a trained Early Neutral Consultant and would be pleased to assist you. Please contact me in order to provide me with the necessary information in order to schedule your Early Neutral Consultation.