Jon and Kate: A Blooming Farewell

According to various news sources, reality television stars Jon and Kate Gosselin have finally ended their 10 year marriage after a long day of Mediation. All the legal issues were finally settled, and Jon was agreeable that Kate is to be the primary caregiver. Jon showed up to the Mediation session with a bouquet of roses for Kate. However, Kate was at best not surprised to see Jon pulling another publicity stunt, and at worst she refused his roses for such a crass move.

One of the most commonly used Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes in family law is Mediation. This process consists of a neutral third party (who is not a judge within the Court) that makes a recommendation about the legal issues presented by the parties. The Mediator's decision regarding the issues is non-binding (also known as "without prejudice") on the parties unless both parties are agreeable to the settlement terms. The Mediator's objective is to facilitate negotiation and constructive settlement between the parties. Had Jon and Kate used Mediation for their matrimonial matter in Ontario the following is plausible.

First off, the couple would have to be both agreeable in using Mediation as an alternative to using the Court route. Mediation can be employed during early negotiations between the parties or post-court proceedings to resolve remaining issues. In the Gosselin case, they used Mediation to resolve their remaining legal issues like determining the primary caregiver. The benefit of using Mediation in the Gosselin situation is that it deters acrimony between the parties. Mediation allows for parties to foster future communication because it dispels the lingering feeling of "remembering that day in court". For the Gosselin family this is especially important when the parents have children, let alone 8 children. Hence, fostering an ongoing healthy relationship between the parents is important for the best interests of the children.

In comparison to the court system, Mediation does not necessarily form an outcome of successful party versus unsuccessful party. At the end of the day, concessions are made by both parties, and they leave with a better understanding of why and how the other party feels. This process is beneficial for Kate and Jon given all the news coverage and media hype regarding their life and how easily their relationship and feelings towards each other can be misinterpreted. Another reason Mediation is ideal in this couple's situation is that there is no obvious power imbalance. For instance, if one of the parties were a victim of domestic violence, Mediation may not be a useful process because the abusive party may exercise undue influence on the abused party because there is a clear power imbalance. In the Gosselin case, although both parties encountered a messy separation, they both had the ability to make autonomous decisions regarding their matrimonial matter. It is commendable that such celebrities are exploring alternatives in dealing with their matrimonial matter.

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