Mediation is gaining popularity as a way for people who are Separating or Divorcing to resolve their differences. We hear the word “mediation” being used on TV, in the media or even by parents who try to “mediate” a fight between their children. However, there does seem to be some confusion or misunderstanding about what mediation is and exactly what it looks like. Formal mediation is provided by a professional and qualified mediator who has been specially trained to handle resolving disputes.
Here is some information about the Divorce mediation process and how it works:
1- Setting up pre-mediation meetings
The mediator will set up a pre-mediation meeting with each of you individually. This meeting may take place over the phone or in person. The mediator will find out what you want to resolve and help you to prepare for the mediation. They will also do a screening to make sure it is safe for you and the other person to be in the same room together.
2- Getting legal advice
The mediator will recommend you get legal advice before you attend the mediation. It is important for you to know your rights and responsibilities regarding the issues you need to resolve. This will also help you to be more productive in the mediation. Getting legal advice does not require that you retain a lawyer and free advice can be offered through a lawyer referral service or student law groups. Check your local legal aid office or law society for more information.
3- Setting up mediation
The mediator will set up the mediation for 2-3 hours. You can use the whole amount of time or less depending on what you need. Mediation usually takes place in person, but can be done by teleconference. On the odd occasion, mediation will be set up so that each person is in a separate room with the mediator going between them. This usually only happens when there is a court order that restricts people from being in the same room together.
Mediation is much more informal than the court process, but does have structure and rules in place to help you resolve your differences. It takes place at a neutral location decided by the mediator and at times that work for both of you. Some mediators offer evening and weekend appointments to make it more convenient for you.
4- The mediation
At the beginning of the session, the mediator will spend a short time talking to you about how you will communicate with one another, confidentiality, breaks and so on. You will then each sign a “consent to mediate” which explains the process, the mediator’s role and guidelines for the mediation. This document can be provided to you ahead of time for you to review or you can have a lawyer review it if you choose. The mediator will help guide you through your discussions and make sure that each of you are heard. Most of the time people only need 1 or 2 sessions to resolve their issues.
Mediation is entered into on a voluntary basis. If you or the other person choose to end the mediation session, you are free to do so. Also, the conversations in mediation, stay in mediation – they are confidential. This makes it a safer place for you to have an open and frank discussion with one another.
Fact: Over 80% of people are successful in resolving their issues and coming to an agreement in mediation.
5- The role of the mediator
The mediator will help you to resolve your differences by assisting you to identify the issues, clear up misunderstandings, explore each of your interests, fears, concerns and assist with communication. The mediator does not make decisions for you and they do not take sides. Also, the mediator cannot be asked to go to court as a witness.
6- The mediated agreement
If you reach a mutual agreement in mediation, the mediator will write it up into a “mediated agreement” and you will each be provided with a copy. Once you have reviewed the agreement, the mediator will help make any corrections needed and then it is yours to keep. At this point, additions or changes can be made to the agreement if you both agree.
7- Legalizing the agreement
The mediator will recommend that you each have a lawyer review your agreement before legalizing it. You will need to have a different lawyer than your spouse as one lawyer cannot give legal advice to both of you. The “mediated agreement” is not legally binding on its own. It can be used as the basis of a legal agreement written up by a lawyer or an order made by the courts if you both agree.
If you would like more information about mediation and whether it is right for you, please contact our office at 780-417-3119 or book a free phone consultation online at http://ow.ly/Ih1Aw.