Divorce Mediation: A Common Option For Couples Divorcing in Ontario and The GTA
Divorce in Ontario can be a complicated matter. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has strained many relationships across the country with some couples choosing to divorce. There are several ways to divorce and many people choose to go the route of mediation before heading to court. Before you make a decision, it’s important to understand the differences between mediation and heading to court for your next divorce. By researching different divorce options, not only can you save time and money, but you can also save your partner’s time and money, should you decide to proceed with divorce.
Here’s what to expect before proceeding with mediation, how you can prepare for it, and the different outcomes you can expect.
How Divorce Mediation Differs From Going To Court (Litigation)
Divorce mediation in Ontario is often used when two divorcing parties are unable to agree on the aspects of their divorce or they’re looking for a less intense environment to settle their divorce. Therefore, you can opt to use a neutral third party, often a family lawyer, to help two parties come to an agreement during a mediation session on issues such as child custody and asset division. The mediator themselves does not propose a solution to a divorcing couple’s issues, but instead helps facilitate discussion and helps them reach a mutually agreeable solution. By using a divorce mediator, couples can resolve their differences without heading to court and avoiding litigation.
Divorce Mediation Prep – The Pre-Mediation Stage
There are a number of ways that you can prepare for mediation during what is known as the “pre-mediation” phase.
- Collaborate with the mediator directly and provide any details that they might require. This includes providing background details on the family situation, the marriage, and any outstanding issues the two parties are having difficulty resolving.
- Provide any financial details to the mediator as requested which may include a list of assets the couple holds.
- Next, make a list of what is most important to you and understand what your rights are as a divorcing party in Ontario. Understand what you are entitled to during a divorce and be prepared to negotiate.
- Attempt to take emotion out of the situation and focus on the individual problems, not the problems you have with your ex-spouse. Mediations can be difficult and emotional. Attempt to focus on the facts and reaching a fair settlement for both parties.
- Consider collaborating with your own family lawyer before mediation. Make a list of “what if” scenarios, potential points of conflict you are willing to bend on, and other “bottom lines” that are non-negotiable.
- Lean on the guidance of family law professionals who are well-versed in family law and can make decisions based on facts, data, and the rule of law in Ontario. Legal counsel can help you make a stand against your partner and fight for what is rightfully yours.
- Remain patient and prepare to stay the course. Consider that one party may attempt to bully another into a resolution. During pre-mediation, know your rights and persevere through difficult negotiations and unexpected demands.
- Trust the process of mediation. Believe that the mediator who has been selected for mediation has the best interests of both parties in mind. Find a mediator that is trustworthy and experienced, one that maintains their integrity and professionalism throughout every step of the process and is completely impartial.
How to Choose the Right Divorce Mediator
Divorcing parties will have to come to an agreement on which mediator to use. Not all mediators are family lawyers, and by law, they don’t have to be.
Mediators can be anyone who has training in the areas of law, psychology, social work, or education. In some cases, social workers or therapists can be used to mediate a divorce, but ideally, the right mediator has extensive experience in family law and is a neutral third party.
Divorcing parties should keep in mind that mediators do not give legal advice, nor do they take sides or make decisions for the couple. Instead, they facilitate discussion, guide negotiations, and help two parties come to an agreed-upon resolution.
If you are considering using mediation during your divorce, research multiple mediators before you decide on one, and be sure to ask about their experience, expertise, education, and track record. All family law professionals should be able to provide references from past clients who can vouch for their work and experience. Be sure to shop around and find a mediator who is best suited for your divorce.
What To Expect During Divorce Mediation
A mediation session can be conducted face-to-face, or, through different meeting rooms. When emotions are high, the two parties are often separated into two different rooms with the mediator moving back and forth between the meeting spaces. During the mediation itself, the mediator uses information that has been collected during the pre-mediation stage and will attempt to help the couple resolve their differences. It is possible that not all issues will be resolved during a mediation session but can instead reduce the number of issues at hand and leave both parties to contemplate fair solutions once the mediation session is complete.
Some parties opt to attend their mediation sessions in person or have their family lawyer represent them instead. It’s up to the individual ultimately on the role their own legal counsel will play during the mediation session.
Divorce Mediation and Family Law Services Offered by De Rose Lawyers
Couples that choose to use mediation are not required to hire their own divorce lawyer but could benefit greatly from independent legal counsel. Hiring a lawyer to help you navigate through the complexities of divorce in Ontario can help to ensure your rights and wishes are respected. Individual legal counsel can help to strengthen your legal position during mediation and fight for what is rightfully yours.
De Rose Lawyers offers a strong team of family law lawyers that can help you whether you decide to divorce through the Ontario court system, or through mediation. We offer both divorce mediation and divorce lawyer services, to suit whatever your needs are. Lean on the experience of De Rose Lawyers and find clarity during these complicated times. Ensure that your rights are protected should you decide to divorce, and you receive what you are rightfully entitled to during a divorce.