Family Law Mediation Lawyers
Separating from a romantic partner can be one of the most difficult, turbulent chapters in a person’s life. In addition to the pain and heartbreak many couples experience at the end of their romantic partnership, both individual parties could endure long, drawn-out periods of emotional turmoil throughout the legal process of seeking a divorce and/or separation.
However, the end of a relationship doesn’t have to be overwhelming or adversarial. Divorcing and/or separating couples may be able to avoid the process of going to court altogether by engaging in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in the form of family mediation.
Mediation is a voluntary process that may help resolve family disputes through collaboration, without needing to engage in costly court proceedings. It may be best suited for couples who want to negotiate a fair deal on their own terms outside of the court process, provided there is not a significant power imbalance. Mediation can be used for specific issues, or to try and address all outstanding concerns. This process is controlled by the parties involved, and not by a Judge or Adjudicator.
Working with a neutral mediator, couples who have reached the end of their relationship may be able to save themselves the stress and trauma of going to court and create a personalized separation agreement that takes both of their concerns and priorities into account. Our London mediation lawyers may be able to provide legal support to help the process go as smoothly as possible.
Understanding the Family Mediation Process
By working with a neutral third party such as a mediator, divorcing and/or separating couples can identify the issues that are important to them. The mediator handling their case may be able to help the couple work through the communication process together until a mutually agreed-upon conclusion has been reached. Mediation can start as soon as both parties agree to participate in this method of ADR – either during a court case, or before one even begins.
Mediators do not take the side of one party over another. Additionally, they do not make final decisions for the couple, but rather help facilitate open dialogue and effective communication strategies to help both parties navigate conversations about important decisions. Topics they might cover include:
- Decision-making responsibility;
- Visitation rights;
- Equalization of family property;
- Spousal and child support;
- Division of debts;
- Separation agreements;
- Parenting agreements;
- And more.
Importantly, mediators do not give legal advice to either party. That is why it may be beneficial for both parties involved in the divorce and/or separation to work with a London mediation lawyer throughout the process. A mediation lawyer serving London may be able to review any decisions made between the couple before they sign their agreement, and advise their client of possible risks and complications.
If both parties consent to participating in ADR, they can first both retain a London mediation lawyer who may advise on the various ways of contracting an impartial mediator with the appropriate qualifications. Mediators usually have a background in family law services, psychology, social work, childcare and education, or another related field. Both parties involved must agree to work with the chosen mediator, as well as the issues they will be attempting to resolve together.
Once all parties have agreed on who will be mediating their ADR, and the topics that need to be addressed, they can begin the communication process. Mediation can occur in person or online. If both parties are amenable to compromise and can amicably resolve their disputes, the process could be completed within one session. However, some cases involve more complex concerns and emotions, which could take multiple sessions to resolve.
The agreements made during ADR will be recorded by the mediator in a Memorandum of Understanding. This document may be scrutinized by both parties’ respective lawyers and revised as necessary. After all revisions have been agreed to, this memorandum can be used for the basis of a legally binding domestic contract in the form of a separation agreement. This agreement becomes enforceable once both parties have signed it in front of witnesses.
The Benefits of Family Mediation
The process of ending a marriage or common-law partnership is intensely personal. By engaging in mediation rather than taking a divorce and/or separation case to court, couples can afford themselves the benefit of privacy. Working with a mediator allows couples to handle their issues between themselves, without the interference of a court-appointed judge. Additionally, closed ADR sessions are entirely confidential. That means that anything said by one party during these private mediations cannot be used against the other, should their case go to trial or arbitration. Decisions made will remain between you and your spouse. They will not be searchable on Google or CanLII.
Mediation puts the decision-making power squarely in the hands of both people going through the separation or divorce. It is important for both parties involved to feel that their voices have been heard while searching for a resolution to their disputes. If the couple chooses to go to court to resolve their issues, a judge will make these important decisions for the divorcing or separating couple. A judge’s decision-making process will be largely based on the policies and guidelines mandated within the provincial government’s Family Law Act. Through mediation, the couple may resolve their family issues together, on their own terms.
Because mediation takes place outside a courtroom, greater amounts of creativity may be used to resolve disputes than would be possible before a judge.
Mediation may also resolve issues that may not be addressed in court. For example, the separating couple may use their mediation process to determine who gets to keep the family pet.
5. Time and Money
Mediation can be particularly appealing to couples seeking a divorce or separation because the process is faster and less expensive than going to court. While scheduling a trial may take over a year, the process of mediation could potentially occur immediately, depending on the availability of the mediator.
6. Emotional Benefits
Because ADR promotes open communication between two former partners, it may be less emotionally draining than litigation. Mediation gives divorcing or separating couples an opportunity to end their relationship in an amicable manner that takes both of their concerns and wishes into account.
Working with a mediation lawyer serving London can be a crucial aspect of the ADR process. To learn how our London mediation lawyers may be able to help you through this challenging time, contact us at Cohen Highley LLP.
Speak to Our Family Mediation Lawyers Serving London Today
Iain Sneddon is the Family Law mediator at Cohen Highley. He is a Partner and Department Co-Chair for Family Law, and holds mediation credentials in the Fundamentals of Mediation, and Power Imbalances in Family Law Cases.
At Cohen Highley LLP, we appreciate how complicated, emotional, and overwhelming the end of a marriage or romantic partnership can be. Our London mediation lawyers have our clients’ best interests in mind while guiding them through the process of alternative dispute resolution.
To learn how you might benefit by working with Cohen Highley LLP, call our mediation lawyers serving London at 519-672-9330.
Listen to Iain Sneddon explain more about the merits of mediation, please click below