The Connect mediation process
While every mediation is unique and tailored to the needs of the individuals, here is a general sense of the process:
a) The first contact with the mediator or our fabulous support staff is for information-gathering. If you have questions about the process, you can arrange a free 15 minute call with a particular mediator.
b) If you and your spouse decide to jointly retain the mediator, then the mediator will meet with each of you individually to learn more about each of your needs, goals and concerns and to discern whether mediation is, indeed, suitable for your situation. All three of you will sign an Agreement to Mediate.
c) Unless there is some special reason against full disclosure which the participants agree to, the participants must disclose all financial and other information so that you can reach agreement based on all the facts. If one of the participants later discovers another has withheld information which, if known, would have changed the final agreement, the person may ask the Court to set aside the agreement.
d) If you are attending mediation with counsel:
- The mediator will have a telephone conference with both counsel in advance of mediation. This helps the mediator understand the issues and ensure everyone is ready for mediation, including having exchanged financial documents or obtained appraisals, etc..
- Mediation will typically occur on one day, although there are options to schedule a mediation for two shorter days, depending on the needs of all involved.
- Mediation can take place in person or virtually, face to face (with parties and their counsel having direct conversations) or “shuttle”, which means the mediator moves between the separate rooms of the parties and their counsel.
- The goal is to leave mediation with a signed agreement, which can take for the form of a Consent Order, Minutes of Settlement, a Separation Agreement, or if you need more time to finalize the details, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to be finalized and signed later.
e) If you are attending mediation without counsel:
- Normally, all meetings will involve all the participants. If one of the participants contacts the mediator, the mediator may or may not talk with the single participant, depending on the subject matter. If the mediator does have a discussion with a single participant, the mediator will inform the other participant(s) of the contents of the discussion.
- If for some reason face to face mediation becomes difficult but the participants still wish to continue to work out an agreement, then the mediator may “shuttle” mediate between the participants where necessary.
- Mediation sessions can range over several weeks, typically 1 to 3 hours at a time. It may complete in one session, or it may complete in six sessions, depending on the number of issues to be resolved, the number of participants, the depth of feeling the participants might have towards each other and the ease or difficulty in their attempts to be objective and to hear and understand each other’s point of view so they can reach a mutually acceptable conclusion.
- While you are involved in mediation, you agree to not make changes which might affect the issues in mediation without written consent of the other participant(s), for instance:
- i. when a participant is covered under the other’s medical and dental insurance, the medical and dental coverage will continue;
- ii. when division of assets or payment of money is an issue, the participants will not change ownership of any of the assets; or
- iii. when the parenting schedule is an issue, the participants will not make changes to the residence or lifestyle of the child.
- As lawyer-mediators, our mediators can draft a separation agreement that reflects the agreements reached in mediation. Each party will be encouraged to obtain independent legal advice from their own counsel prior to signing the agreement. Our mediator are pleased to recommend names of settlement-minded lawyers to assist with this final step.
f) The mediator cannot give legal advice to the participants at any time but may provide you with information about the general legal framework for areas such as parenting, child support, spousal support and division of property and debts. She may also opine on the state of the law in the area in dispute. The mediator may also offer suggestions if the participants get bogged down, opening up new and different ways to seek solutions.
Mediation cannot work if the participants do not play fair
This is a common-sense rule.
- All communications, correspondence and information exchanged by the participants are confidential and privileged. It follows that should the mediation process not work out, nothing said or done in the mediation sessions may be used as evidence in a Court proceeding, except in the following instance:
- Every person is obliged by law to report any information which would indicate a child needs protection.
Connect with us
If you have questions about our mediation process or family law in general, please feel free to give us a call or request a 15 minute free consultation.