19 Queen Street, St. Thomas, ON, Canada. N5R 3H9
Tel: (519) 633 - 4423
Fax: (519) 633 - 3240
A co-operative approach for separating or divorcing parents
What is family mediation?
Family Mediation is a voluntary process with an impartial third party (Family Mediator) who helps families identify and clarify issues within the family and assists them in coming to an agreement on some or all of these issues.
The goal of family mediation is to help family members arrive at an agreement that is in the best interest of the family. It is very important for the family to maintain control and be involved in these important decisions. While the parents are involved in the decision making, the focus is making positive adjustment while providing for and protecting the children.
Family mediation does not deal with fault, find blame, give legal advice, or make decisions for others.
All information connected with mediation can remain privileged and protected from disclosure when family members agree to this at the onset.
Mediators, however, are required by law to report any disclosure with respect to the abuse of a minor child or the threat of physical harm to another person.
The lawyer's role in mediation
Family Mediation is not the practice of law and our mediators do not give legal advice.
We recommend both parties seek independent legal advice. Lawyers are involved throughout the process, from letter of referral to signing the agreement.
Partners are encouraged to discuss and question every aspect of the mutual family agreement with their lawyers to ensure that the interests of all family members are protected.
Mediators help families with...
feelings associated with ending the marriage
post divorce parenting arrangements
child custody and access
meeting children's needs
The agreement can be adjusted as the needs of the family change.
Mediation sessions are usually few in numbers, which enables people to reach an agreement and carry on with their lives.
The benefits of mediation
The needs and emotions of all family members are taken into consideration when agreeing upon a voluntary settlement.
The process also provides practical and economical decisions, resulting in positive solutions that are likely to last, as the outcomes have been negotiated.
Children of divorced parents tend to maintain healthy, meaningful relationships with both parents. This is a very important aspect of their adjustment after separation or divorce.
Everyone benefits through mutual co-operation of family members, including the parents, their children, lawyers, judges, the system and society!
Mediation stresses cooperation not competition.
Supports parent/child relationships.
Family accepts the responsibility for solving their own problems.
Alternatives to mediation
Lawyers may request a family assessment and recommendations regarding custody and access, when mediation is not appropriate. The assessment report may be used in further legal or court proceedings.
When mediation is not appropriate
Mediation is not appropriate in the following circumstances:
For custody and access issues where there is a history of abuse, or failure to protect, by one or both adults towards the minor children.
When there is a history of abuse within the past twelve months from one partner towards the other partner.
When there is intimidation from one partner towards the other partner.
When one partner, even with the presence of an advocate, does not feel equal in power and control with the other partner.
The fee for mediation is usually shared equally by the partners, however, fees can be prorated according to availability of resources. Research has shown that mediation is typically less costly from both a financial and emotional aspect, than litigation.