Family Mediation

What is Family Mediation?

Family Mediation (Divorce Mediation) is a confidential and informal way where an accredited mediator helps parents and families reach a mutually acceptable agreement and resolve outstanding issues.

 

Utilizing proven techniques and knowledge, a family mediator will guide the parties and help them reduce the emotional stress and ensure safety for all participants. A family mediator does not decide the outcome of  a case but rather help  to manage the issues and ensure the best possible results.

 

Anyone considering family mediation should get all the facts about the mediators and the organization(s) responsible for their accreditation or certification.

 

Family mediation in Ontario, has been long promoted by the Ontario Association for Family Mediation (OAFM).

Mediator talking with Asian couple to help them resolve issues

OAFM accreditation designation is also sanctioned by the Ontario provincial government.  You can find out more about OAFM at   https://www.oafm.on.ca/

 

If you have already started a  family court case, most Judges will encourage parties to participate in  mediation and resolve some or all of their issues. 

 

Over 80% of family mediation  cases result in a full agreement.  For any unresolved  issues, parties  have an opportunity to continue with their court action where a Judge will decide the outcome.

What Issues Can Family Mediation Help Us To Resolve

Family Mediation can help you resolve issues related to:

 

  • Decision making on major issues regarding the children (custody)

 

Major issues include health, education, religion and general welfare.  If parents enter into a joint decision-making agreement, one parent would not be able to make decisions without the other parent.

 

  • The time the children spend with each parent (access)

 

The family mediator will facilitate discussions with the parents, on the best schedule for the children, and, outline these decisions in a parenting plan.  Canadian law does not start with a presumption that there will be equal parenting time. 

 

Parenting plans should be individualized based on the age, stage of development and needs of each child.  The plan also takes into consideration, the circumstances and ability of each parent.   

 

  • Financial support (spousal, child support and section 7 expenses)

 

All parents in Canada have a legal obligation to financially support their children.  A step-parent and adoptive parent have the same obligation. Child support is governed by the child support guidelines and take into account, parents’ income, children’s age and time spent caring for the children.

 

A parent cannot be denied time with a child because they have not paid child support.  In addition, a parent might still be required to pay child support, even if there is no contact with the child.

 

Spousal support, on the other hand,  is not an absolute right.  Both married and common-law couples can make a claim for spousal support, however, conditions must be met for common law relationships. 

 

Spousal support can be negotiated between the parties based on financial need and the contribution of the party to the relationship. The length of the relationship and the age and earning potential of the party requesting support is also a factor. For information about child and spousal support, visit  https://www.mysupportcalculator.ca/

  • Property division, debts

 

When couples separate, one of the major decisions  that must be made. is how they will divide their property.   In Ontario, the law is applied differently in married and common-law relationships. Couples who live together as spouses (legally married) automatically share in the value of their property if they separate; common-law couples do not. Property includes the matrimonial home, investments, bank accounts or anything of value accumulated during the life of the relationship. A family mediator will help you sort through some of the question and provide information to help you navigate your separation or divorce.

Property Division with a Family Mediator
  • Mobility and travel

 

Generally speaking, a parent can move with a child if the move does not interfere with the other parent’s time. If the move requires a change in the child’s school, the moving parent must obtain written consent from the other parent or from the court to do so.

 

In court, that parent must convince a judge that the move is in the child’s best interest. Similarly, if a parent wishes to travel with a child, the travelling parent may need a signed consent from the other parent to do so. In addition, the travelling parent may need to give the other parent travel details and contact information before leaving for a trip. This may also be required in a sole custody situation.

Arab couple with communication difficulties has a session with a mediator
  • Communication difficulties

 

It is important that parties set ground rules with regard to co-parenting in order to minimize conflict.

 

Family mediation, will help guide parents to create a parenting plan that outlines how information about the children will be shared, and, by what means.

 

For high conflict parents, it may be beneficial to place a limit on the length of the communication.

Any issue, with the potential to be contentious, should be worked out in a parenting plan. For more information about family mediation, see our FAQ section.

Is Divorce Mediation Right for Us

Divorce mediation works best when:

  • couples have an interest in working together to ensure the best outcome for their family (financially and emotionally)
  • there is a need to resolve matters quickly and avoid the lengthy court process
  • one party does not try to intimidate or bully the other into an agreement
  • parties do not bring their new partners/spouses into the negotiation process
  • there is no risk of one person retaliating against the other
  • there is no history of family violence or other criminal charges
  • parties enter into the process in good faith and plan to produce all the documents necessary to speed up the process
Family Mediation - Happy couple with a mediator