What is family (divorce) mediation?
Family mediation is a respectful dispute resolution process primarily used to help couples resolve legal issues related to their separation/divorce. It can also be very effective in helping couples who want to negotiate a cohabitation or pre-nuptial agreement with each other in a friendly manner. As a family mediator, I would sit down with you and your spouse as an impartial third party. My job is to focus you and your spouse on the issues you cannot agree on or need guidance on, and to help the two of you have a respectful conversation about these concerns. The issues most people need help with are property division, child support, spousal support or parenting. Once all issues are resolved between you and your spouse, I will draft a separation agreement and give it to you.
How does the mediation process begin?
Both parties make separate appointments with me, so I can understand their individual issues of concern, and discuss topics that need to be discussed in confidence. Provided both parties are comfortable, we will then schedule the first mediation session at a mutually-convenient time.
At the initial session, I set ground rules and answer any questions about the process. Clients are not expected to bring any financial documents to the first session; however, you may ask or be asked to bring documents to subsequent sessions. Each session is client-driven – topics of discussion are selected according to what each party feels is important. As the family mediator, I ensure both parties remain respectful and focused on the legal issues at hand. During the sessions, I provide general legal information and options regarding how to resolve particular legal issues.
If I live outside of the Greater Toronto Area, can I do mediation by phone or Skype?
Yes, I do offer my mediation services by Skype for those living outside of the Greater Toronto Area. I prefer not to do mediation by phone, however, because it does not feel personable.
How many mediation sessions are needed?
The number of family mediation sessions depends on how many concerns need to be resolved, the complexity of the issues, and how well each party negotiates with the other. In general, most clients require three or four sessions – typically no more than five. For simpler matters, only one or two sessions may be needed.
What is the cost of mediation services?
Mediation services are usually the least expensive option to resolve family legal issues, because both parties are utilizing the services of only one professional – the family mediator – to do most of the work. (This is cheaper than having each party pay for their own family lawyer to do all of the work in a case.)
I charge a competitive hourly rate. Please see my Rates section. The total cost of family mediation depends on how much time is required to resolve issues and negotiate all the terms of a separation agreement.
Is a family (divorce) lawyer still needed in the mediation process?
Yes. Each spouse will need his or her own lawyer at some stage in the family mediation process.
Even though I am a family lawyer myself, when I’m acting as a family mediator, I must remain neutral and cannot give legal advice to either party. Although I will provide general legal information to both parties in mediation, I cannot provide “legal advice”. Clients are encouraged to have a lawyer to consult about the discussions and decisions reached during mediation. Your lawyer will ensure you understand your “best-case scenario” according to law. If needed, I can help you find an experienced family lawyer.
As stated above, at the end of the family mediation sessions, I will draft the final separation agreement, but you and your spouse will need to take the draft agreement to your lawyers to get independent legal advice and to get it signed.
Despite the fact that lawyers are involved at some point in the family mediation process, family mediation is still generally the least expensive option.
I already have a lawyer and I am thinking of trying out mediation. Can I still come into process?
You sure can. Sometimes clients already have a lawyer but negotiations are “stuck” with “the other side”. You or your lawyer might suggest that you try mediation with your ex-spouse to try and move the negotiations forward. In this case, if you and your spouse attempted mediation, we would discuss whether it would be useful to also have your lawyers present at the mediation sessions.
Can I use mediation to negotiate a prenuptial agreement, cohabitation agreement or marriage contract with my spouse?
Yes you can — and I think that mediation is the best process for negotiating a prenuptial agreement, cohabitation agreement or marriage contract. One of the most difficult things to do is to talk about one of these agreements with someone you care about. When clients hire lawyers to help them negotiate a prenuptial agreement or cohabitation agreement, sometimes statements can be misinterpreted and feelings can be hurt. With mediation, you are both receiving the same information and you are talking through your concerns with each other in the same room without lawyers. Once you have reached a deal in mediation, then your mediator will draft the agreement. You will then take it to your own lawyers for independent legal advice and signing.
What’s the difference between you and other family mediators in Toronto and the GTA?
Unlike some mediators, I am also a family lawyer and therefore understand all of the legal issues in a separation agreement.
I’ve mediated a large number of cases, from simple to complex, with a strong track record of success.
My hourly rate is very competitive.
Perhaps most importantly, I have a compassionate approach to resolving family legal disputes. Divorce can be a stressful process, so it’s important to know your mediator cares about your situation, strives to find an amicable resolution, and reduces tensions where possible.
I would be happy to discuss your matter in confidence.
Accredited Family Mediator & Family Lawyer
FIRST CANADIAN PLACE
100 King Street West – Suite 5700
Toronto, Ontario, M5X 1C7
By virtual conferencing anywhere in Ontario