Mediation offers an alternative path to litigation in solving family law disputes. It’s cost-effective, it’s less stressful, and it offers a quicker route to a resolution than waiting for a day out in court. Whether you’re going through a separation, or a child custody dispute, a mediator can facilitate productive conversations that allow important decisions to be made. In this week’s blog, we’re going to look at when mediation is appropriate in family law.
Mediation – How Does it Work?
A key difference between mediation and courtroom decisions is that both parties involved in the process control the outcome. The mediator is there to facilitate productive conversations and give both parties the space they need to make key decisions.
In a family law dispute, mediators will kick off the process by meeting with each party involved in a private individual session. These meetings serve a dual purpose. They’re a fact-finding mission for the mediator, while also checking that each participant in mediation feels physically and emotionally safe to make impartial decisions.
The mediator will then design a process to meet the collective needs and provide support throughout the process.
How to Prepare for Mediation
As part of their fact-finding process, mediators will want to ensure they’re privy to all the key facts of the disagreement. While individual conversations will play a role, what’s more important is key documents that establish where both parties stand. Depending on the nature of the disagreement, these documents may include:
- Court Orders
- Written Agreements
- Banking Information
- Records of Joint Investments / Family Property
- Income Statements / Personal Tax Assessments
- Parenting After Separation Worksheets
- Documentation Relating to Parenting
The Role of a Family Lawyer in Mediation
All of the above details make mediation sound great, right? But you may be wondering what role family lawyers play in the process. What a mediator can’t do, is to tell you what might be fair to expect as a mediation outcome in the eyes of the law. A family law expert, like the team at Westside Family Law, can provide independent legal advice prior to mediation, ensuring you understand where the law falls in your dispute. This information should be consulted before making any agreements.
What to Look for in a Mediator
Family law mediators must meet minimum training and practice standards as laid out in BC’s Family Law Act. They must have at least two years of experience in a family-related field, possess specific training in family law, mediation theory, skills development, and family violence.
Talk to a Family Law Expert
Interested in learning more about mediation or any aspect of family law? The expert team at Westside is standing by to help. Contact us and we’ll be happy to assist.