Mediation is a voluntary process in which clients agree to have an impartial person (the mediator) help to solve civil, family, or business issues. Examples of the application and objectives of mediation include:
- Helping couples negotiate details of a separation agreement, sorting out support, property and financial matters, and developing a parenting plan for any children.
- Helping the family to understand the issues which have developed, and guiding them to resolve those issues successfully.
- Helping negotiate changes to an existing Separation Agreement, as circumstances may have changed over the years.
- In business disputes generally, helping the opposing parties reach a satisfactory resolution that will keep them out of costly court battles.
- For shareholder disputes in private companies, or when dissolving that relationship, assisting the parties to arrive at a solution, while de-escalating the conflict.
- In disputes between family members in a family-owned business, helping the individuals involved create the details of an agreement, such that all family members understand how the business will be run, as well as to establish terms for the business to be dissolved or sold should that outcome arise.
- Assist the employer and employee in resolving employee disputes, or cases of alleged wrongful dismissal.
- For existing court cases generally, help the parties negotiate a reasonable settlement, allowing them to discontinue the lawsuit.
Some Things to Think About When Considering Mediation...
You might wish to ask yourself some of these questions:
- Do I actually want to resolve this situation while avoiding a Court or legal battle? Can we both agree to take this route?
- Am I concerned to save time?
- Am I concerned to save money?
- Do I want to maintain control of the separation process, rather than have another person (e.g. a judge) decide on my family’s future?
- Can I put my anger aside, and focus on the well-being of my children?
- Am I looking for a reasonable and fair outcome, or am I determined to win at all costs?
- Am I willing to live up to an agreement that we’ve both found to be satisfactory?
- Is it important that I move ahead with my life, put the existing situation behind me, and reduce present and future conflict?
- Do I believe that an experienced professional – who does not “take sides” - can help us arrive at fair and reasonable solutions?
Some Common Questions That Are Dealt With in Family Mediation...
Many people worry about:
Am I eligible to receive spousal support? Will I have to pay any? If so, how much?
- How will child support work, now and in the future?
- My partner has always handled the finances. How do I get details on the real position?
- We own a house. How will we deal with it?
- The other party has a pension, but I don’t. How does that work?
- What about Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs)?
- What about property outside of Ontario?
- I received a gift from my parents, or an inheritance. Do I need to share that?
- My partner is self-employed. Does that change things, and if so, how?
- .............and many more that arise in the specific situation of the two people involved.
The Law Itself Favors Mediation...
When issues arise which could otherwise lead to court proceedings, it makes a great deal of sense in most situations for people to resolve these disagreements through mediation.
In cases of divorce, the following appears in the Divorce Act:
(2) IDEM- It is the duty of every barrister, solicitor, lawyer or advocate who undertakes to act on behalf of a spouse in a divorce proceeding to discuss with the spouse the advisability of negotiating matters that may be the subject of a support order or custody order, and to inform the spouse of the mediation facilities known to him or her that might be able to assist the spouses in negotiating those matters [Emphasis has been added].
Mediation has grown rapidly as an alternative to court battles in many kinds of cases. For example, the general rule is that all large unsettled court cases in Toronto, must go to compulsory (“mandatory”) mediation. In general, you can mediate even in the midst of a court case. I have often mediated those disputes as well.
The primary focus of mediation is to come up with practical solutions. The goal is to achieve a settlement in writing.
Mediation aims to reduce stress and to support the parties during the entire process. Making sure that each party is free to express their views is of central importance. Where there are children involved, even adult children, this can be the more peaceful road, for their sake.