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We spoke with family lawyer Claire McDowell about some commonly-asked questions on family mediation in Ontario. Please be advised that these answers are not intended as legal advice, but rather as an introductory overview on a legal subject. For legal advice regarding family mediation Ontario, we recommend consulting with an Ontario family lawyer. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.
What is Family Mediation?
Separation is difficult. The many emotions associated with the end of a relationship can make it particularly challenging for a separating couple to come to an agreement regarding their children and shared property.
Family mediation is a way of resolving disagreements. A mediator is an impartial third party who comes in to see where the separating couple might have common ground on which to build an agreement. If agreement is not an option, a mediator may help clarify which issues are stopping points. This can help streamline the process should the couple then go to Court.
A client may go through mediation prior to seeing a family lawyer. Sometimes, mediators help the clients draft their Separation Agreement. However, because a mediator is not necessarily a lawyer and may not understand the nuances of contract-writing, it is often in a client’s best interests to have a family lawyer review and potentially re-write the agreement.
Instead of asking a mediator to draft a Separation Agreement you may need to have re-written, you may wish to work with a mediator to outline the terms of your separation in a Mediation Agreement. This can serve as a base of agreed-upon terms from which a lawyer can draft your Separation Agreement.
How do I know if family mediation is right for me?
Most issues in family law come down to how willing the parties are to collaborate. The end of a relationship can be emotionally volatile. There may be feelings of anger, resentment, and frustration influencing one or both parties throughout the separation process.
If one or both partners are unwilling to co-operate on any level, mediation may not be the right fit. If there is willingness to collaborate, even with frustrations and other negative feelings in the mix, mediation might be helpful in working towards an agreement. Our mediation team and Ontario family lawyers would be happy to hear your story and see how we may be of help to you.
Benefits of Family Mediation
If the separating parties are willing to collaborate, family mediation can be faster, less expensive, and less emotionally strenuous than going to Court. Matters of family law are often very emotional, especially where children are involved.
Court processes can last for years. Ongoing negotiations with your former partner can have a tremendous impact on the quality of your family life. If it is possible to work with your ex through mediation and come to an agreement you will both respect, the result may be best from both an emotional and financial standpoint.
Difference Between A Traditional Divorce and Family Mediation
Traditional divorce and family mediation often go hand in hand. You could do mediation to clarify the terms of your separation, draft a Separation Agreement, and then proceed to get a divorce.
The purpose of mediation is to try and collaborate towards setting terms that may later form your Separation Agreement. These may be matters such as Parenting Plans and the division of property. If you are in Court without a Separation Agreement, you may have to first address the issues a separation agreement should cover, before your divorce can be finalized.
Unless there have been extenuating circumstances, an Ontario couple has to have been living separate and apart for at least one year in order to file for divorce. If there is a Separation Agreement in place and both parties agree, the process can be relatively straightforward. After a year has elapsed, the parties may pay a fee and send in a Simple Divorce Application.
Not everyone who ends a marriage decides to get divorced. If there is a Separation Agreement in place and both parties are respecting its terms, the parties file their taxes separately and live independent lives. However, if one of the parties wants to get re-married, they do need to first be legally divorced.
Contact Gelman & Associates for a Consultation on Family Mediation in Ontario
If you would like to learn more or discuss the ways in which family mediation may be right for you, contact us at Gelman & Associates and schedule a free consultation today. We have offices across Ontario in order to provide our clients with better access to justice.
Disclaimer: For specific legal advice on your family law matter, please consult with a family law lawyer. The content in this article is not intended to act as legal advice and is instead intended to act as a general overview of a legal topic.