Despite what you’re dreading, not every divorce needs to end in an acrimonious court battle. Whether you’re looking for a painless separation or a reasonable compromise on your assets, divorce mediation can be an effective way to resolve the thorny disagreements that may arise during the divorce process.
In most cases, mediation is an effective means of coming to an out-of-court settlement. The process involves you and your spouse (and, in some cases, your lawyers) working with a neutral mediator to come to a mutually-agreed-upon settlement with minimal court interference. The mediator does not make any decisions as a judge or arbiter; rather, he/she simply serves as a neutral third party who can help facilitate communication and compromise in an effort to reach a final resolution. In this way, mediation processes can help divorcees avoid the expensive and emotionally-taxing costs of a court trial, while allowing the two parties to arrive at a resolution of their own volition, rather than a solution imposed by the courts.
Here are some things to keep in mind when considering if divorce mediation is right for you.
Don’t Mediate if You’re Ready to Settle
Divorce mediation aims at coming to an out-of-court settlement, with the legal system having only minimal involvement. The process is mainly aimed at individuals who are unable to come to a resolution of their own accord. If you and your spouse are ready to agree to a settlement, then the next step is not to seek a mediator, but rather a lawyer who can shepherd the settlement through the system.
Powers of the Mediator
The mediator is not a judge or arbiter; he/she cannot impose a settlement on you or your spouse, nor make any decisions on your behalf. The mediator does not make any decisions regarding who is going to win or lose – they simply act as a guide, as a neutral party that maintains the avenues of communication and consideration of the important issues between the parties.
Likewise, the mediator is not a lawyer – they do not provide legal counsel in respects to your legal rights or obligations. It’s important to consult with lawyers prior to mediation, to ensure that you enter into negotiations fully informed of your legal rights and obligations. Having a lawyer present or involved in the mediation process can result in more efficient negotiations, as well as ensure that decisions are made in a fair and consistent manner, to the best interests of all parties involved.
Open Vs Closed Mediation
Not all mediations are confidential. Open mediation does not guarantee any confidentiality and does not prohibit the disclosure of the proceedings or resultant decisions by any of the parties involved. If confidentiality is a concern, then a closed mediation may be for you – the process is completely confidential, and all involved parties have a legal obligation not to disclose any items in the proceedings.
When to Consult A Professional
To get the most out of your mediation process, it’s important that both sides receive proper legal counsel beforehand. Galbraith Family Law lawyers are trained in Collaborative Practice, and we have been named the top firm by the Barrie Examiner multiple times. Our legal insights have also been featured in the Globe and Mail, as well as Lawyers Weekly.
Click here to contact us, or to schedule a consultation. Or you can call the local office listed at the top of the page.