Frequently Asked Questions
Family mediation is family-centered process for resolving disputes between people with the help of a mediator who is impartial. It provides a safe and informal place for you to have an open and honest discussion, as well as the opportunity to work together to come up with solutions that are fair and agreeable to those involved.
Click on this link to see a short video on Family Mediation.
Click on this link to see a short video on Family Mediation.
Mediation can save you time and money. It is confidential and provides you with the chance to explore a wide range of possible solutions. You make your own decisions and retain control of the outcome. Mediation also provides you with the time and opportunity to include information in your agreement that is unique to your own situation.
Yes, family mediation is generally entered into on a voluntary basis.
Family mediation is appropriate in most cases. It may not be suitable for families that are experiencing issues with violence, neglect or chronic alcohol/drug abuse. It is recommended that you contact a mediator to evaluate if mediation is the right process for you.
Any issues relating to your child such as the parenting schedule, holidays, health, travel, communication between the parents, child support, etc. can be discussed in mediation. Other issues arising from separation or divorce, such as spousal support and division of property, may be discussed as well.
The role of the mediator is to be an impartial third party who can help people reduce conflict between them, improve communication and assist them to come to a resolution. The mediator can help you to identify your issues, provide information where needed, assist you to explore a variety of different options while focusing on the needs and interests of those who are involved including your children.
Your role in the mediation is to be open to have an effective conversation with the other person by being clear about your concerns and needs and being open to listen to the other person’s concerns and needs. The goal is for you to take the time to work together and come up with solutions that work for both of you. Decisions are made by the people involved in the mediation, not the mediator.
Mediation usually takes place in a neutral environment, such as a boardroom or office that is considered safe and comfortable for all individuals involved. Appointments can be set up during the day, in the evening or on weekends depending on people’s schedules.
A mediation takes anywhere from two to three hours and one to several mediations may be required depending on the number of issues that need to be resolved, the complexity of the issues and the willingness of the people involved to resolve these issues . Many disputes are resolved in one or two mediations.
Yes, mediation takes place in a private setting and usually only those involved in the dispute are present. Discussions that take place in the mediation stay in the mediation.
Generally, it is only the people involved in the dispute that attend mediation; however, on occasion you may have someone else such as your lawyer or another support person attend with you. This may occur as long as you and the other person involved in the dispute agree upon this ahead of time.
Pre-mediation takes place before you meet in mediation and involves each person speaking with the mediator one-on-one, usually by phone. This meeting varies in length taking anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour. During the pre-mediation, the mediator will provide you with an orientation for the mediation; determine the readiness of each person to participate in the mediation, get your contact information, find out what you need to resolve and help you to prepare.
You will need to sign the Agreement to Mediate at the beginning of the mediation. The purpose of this agreement is to be clear about the parameters of mediation and to confirm your commitment to proceed with the process. The mediator may provide you with a copy of the Agreement to Mediate prior to the mediation for you and / or your lawyer to review.
To start, the mediator will sit down together with the people in dispute and discuss a few housekeeping items such as communication and confidentiality. With the assistance of the mediator, the issues that need to be resolved will be put on the table. The mediator will then assist you with a discussion about any of your concerns, needs or interests relating to the issues. You may be asked some questions by the mediator to help clarify information making it easier for you to be heard by the other person. The mediator will help to balance “air time” and reduce any obstacles to clear communication. You will have the opportunity to come up with and explore a variety of options. All decisions are made by the people involved in the mediation, not the mediator. If an agreement is reached, the mediator will write this information down and will provide you with a copy of your mediated agreement in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding within a few days of the mediation. The Memorandum of Understanding is not legally binding, but can be used as the basis of a legal agreement or Court Order.
You can make your mediated agreement legal by having a lawyer write up it up into a legal agreement or making it legal through the courts. In order to get a court order, you can ask for the assistance of a lawyer, a Family Court Counselor with Family Justice Services or you may be able to do it on your own. Court applications can be picked up or are available online from the Family Law Information Centre (see Resources).
The mediator cannot provide you with legal advice. You can speak with a lawyer or with an organization such as Legal Aid Alberta if you wish to get legal advice. It is recommended that you know your legal rights and responsibilities prior to entering into a legal agreement or Court Order.
The cost for mediation is generally based on an hourly fee and usually applies to the pre-mediation meetings, the mediation and the time it takes to write up an agreement. For more information, please contact Michelle Garneau at 780-417-3119.