Mediation and Collaborative Family Law
Interest Based Negotiations
If you are looking for an amicable way to resolve the outstanding issues arising from your separation, one option may be to engage in a mediation process, or another is to engage in a collaborative process.
Both are what we call “interest based” negotiations. This means that a successful process will have both yourself and your former spouse reaching an agreement that you feel addresses your needs and interests.
Working Together Towards a Better Future
In mediation you and your former spouse work together with me as your mediator.
I am neutral in the discussions, which means that I do not take sides. My job is to work with you both to help you understand each others’ perspectives and to have you appreciate what is important to each other.
I also will provide you with an outline about what the legal model says about the issues you are discussing so that you have the legal context around the issues in dispute.
I will also guide you through the topics that are often included in a separation agreement.
Putting the Children First
Mediation is a great process for spouses that are needing to address issues related to the parenting of their children:
- How much time the children are going to spend with each of you?
- How are you going to share holidays and special occasions?
- How are you going to make important decisions about the children?
- How are you going to communicate about the children?
Balancing the books
Mediation is also a great process to address financial issues arising from your separation.
- What child support might look like and how you are going to share expenses that the children have
- What spousal support is and what the options are around payment of spousal support
- How to divide up your assets, and what happens with your home
- Many other financial issues unique to your situation and family needs
For each of these issues we start by gathering all the essential information we may need. This may include what is important to each of you about these topics, what the law says about these topics, and what financial or other information that will help in making informed decisions around each of these areas. Together, we brainstorm options of how things may be resolved. Everyone has a voice, and everyone puts forward ideas and thoughts. Through this process, we find our solutions.
Who Can Benefit From a Meaditon Approach
This is a process that really can work for anyone. While you may think that you must be on reasonably good terms with your spouse to engage in mediation or have a high level of communication to be successful, that is not necessarily the case.
Many families have been successful in a mediation process despite having limited communication outside of the process or quite different views at the commencement of the process of what the outcome should be.
However, if you have difficulty voicing your opinions in the presence of your former spouse or if you have challenges in making decisions for yourself in the presence of your former spouse, you may benefit from the support of the team in a collaborative process.
One Team, One Goal
Collaboration is a team approach. By that I mean that there is a team of professionals, all with specific roles, which work together to help your family reach a resolution.
On the team is your lawyer, your spouse’s lawyer, a family professional and a financial professional.
All of the professionals involved have been specially trained to work together, as a team, to resolve disputes arising from parties separating.
Your Lawyer is Your Advocate
As your lawyer, my job in the collaborative team is to make sure that you understand clearly what the law provides regarding the issues in dispute.
I will give you legal advice, specific to your situation, both in private sessions and together in group meetings.
I am there to make sure that your voice is heard and that what is important to you is addressed, and that you are making an informed decision that makes sense for you and for your family.
The Same Team
Your spouse’s lawyer is doing the same thing for your spouse.
What we are not doing, is having endless debates about legal issues that have no purpose and we do not spend any time posturing for one another or engaging in inflammatory legal banter.
Both lawyers are there to advocate for their clients, but they do so in the context of resolution with the goal of the process being an agreement, not a trial or a battle.
The Family Professional is there to help you both with your communication, with understanding one another, and to assist with your parenting issues.
They are also there to help the team stay focused and work together in a cohesive manner.
The Financial Professional’s job is to gather the financial disclosure, prepare calculations, and to assist you both in understanding the financial implications of the decisions you are making.
When is Collaborative Ideal
In this process we can also discuss parenting issues, child and spousal support, property division and equalization, etc.
This is a great process for families that need a bit more support in getting to a resolution.
This could be because:
- There is more conflict or more serious conflict between the spouses
- It could be that the financial matters are more complicated
- That there are more complicated parenting issues to address (Children with special needs, parents with issues which may impact their parenting, etc.)
- Or any other number of special circumstances that add complexity to the separation process
It is also a great process for simpler situations and the number of people on the team can be modified to address the individual needs of the family.
This process is not for everyone. Sometimes your family needs a process that is more intimate and has less professionals involved. If so, mediation may be the better option for you.
Find Your Best Path
It can be daunting to figure out which way is the best way forward – and that’s okay.
You do not have to decide all of this on your own.
We can schedule a consultation in which I will gather information about your family and your situation. I can then understand
Chantel has been assisting clients with all of their Family Law needs since 2002. Her primary focus is on resolving disputes for families through Mediation and Collaborative Process. She provides additional services for families, including Estate Planning and Administration.