Mediation

MediationMediation is a process in which a couple works with a neutral mediator to resolve the terms of their separation. Committed to building my skills as a mediator, I have taken extensive training in mediation and negotiation, including the Harvard Negotiation Skills Program and the CDR Associates Divorce and Custody Mediation Program in Boulder, Colorado. I am certified as a Comprehensive Family Mediator with Family Mediation Canada and the Ontario Association of Family Mediation. Since 1990, I have conducted hundreds of mediations regarding parenting arrangements, property division, child and spousal support, and related issues.

I am a facilitative mediator, meaning that I help my clients reach agreements that make sense in law and satisfy their goals and interests, which often includes maintaining a good working relationship with each other for their children.

The Mediation Process

I begin the mediation process by meeting with each spouse individually to discuss goals and concerns and to assess the capacity of the parties to negotiate. If the spouses are not yet working with lawyers, I provide a referral and suggest that each person meet with a lawyer for a legal consultation before or early in the mediation process. The lawyers are available to provide advice if needed during the mediation, and will review and provide independent legal advice before any mediated agreement is signed. Normally clients attend mediation sessions without counsel, although a 5-way meeting with counsel can be arranged to resolve challenging or technical issues or lawyers can be present throughout the process if desired.

I help the couple decide the issues they wish to resolve in the mediation process, collect and exchange information, uncover and share the needs and goals of each person, and develop an array of options for settlement. I create a respectful environment for face-to-face discussions. I provide information about the legal issues, including information about relevant statutes and legal criteria for dividing property and assessing support issues, and identify matters that are commonly addressed. Where needed, I help the parties jointly retain neutral experts to value property, pensions and businesses and assess income for the purposes of determining support.

While the number of mediation sessions varies with the complexity of the issues and the emotional dynamics between the parties, between four and six mediation sessions is common. I circulate progress notes after each mediation session to note important points, tentative agreements, homework and upcoming meet mediation sessions. I help the parties to express what’s important and take into consideration what matters to the other. I help the parties reach an agreement that works for both parties, and the children, in the best way possible. Once agreement is reached, I prepare a Memorandum of Understanding incorporating the settlement terms. Once the draft agreement is in a form acceptable to both spouses, I forward the draft to the lawyers for review with the clients, amendment if required, and signing in the presence of the lawyers.

When appropriate I co-mediate with Sheila Brown, a social worker, and Jane Tremblay, a financial professional. Both Sheila and Jane are experienced mediators.

The Benefits of Mediation

The mediation process allows the parties to retain control over the decisions they make and to create customized settlements that work for themselves and their children. Mediation is suitable for couples who have a reasonable level of trust and goodwill, the capacity to understand the issues, feel comfortable working with the support of a neutral, rather than an advocate, and with obtaining legal advice, usually away from the table. Lawyers can participate in the mediation when needed.

The skills and strategies for effective communication and problem-solving learned in mediation can be taken away to promote amicable co-parenting after divorce. Mediation is also an effective way to resolve issues that arise in the future.