Hello, I am Andrew Feldstein of Feldstein Family Law Group, and today we will be looking at what you can expect when you go to mediation.
Mediation is a voluntary way of resolving matrimonial disputes, and is an alternative to court. In mediation, a third party mediator helps parties in reaching a mutually agreeable settlement. Both parties jointly agree upon a neutral third-party mediator. The mediator can be a lawyer, social worker, or other trained professional. The mediator does not take sides, make decisions, or give legal advice; their only role is to facilitate respectful conversation.
The parties’ lawyer may participate in the process and attend mediation meetings.
Before the mediation process commences, parties may draft and sign a mediation agreement. This detailed agreement can address the issues that will be mediated, the impartial role of the mediator, the importance of making and receiving full and frank disclosure, whether parties will engage in closed or open mediation, the procedure to follow if negotiations fail, and / or the procedure to follow in order to successfully terminate the mediation. This step is optional, but recommended.
Prior to the first meeting, your lawyer will prepare a mediation brief on your behalf. This document will set out your position on the issues in dispute, and will include all other relevant documents and statements, and case law upon which your lawyer may rely at the mediation. The brief will have been served on the other lawyer or party, and sent to the mediator well before the scheduled meeting. The other party’s lawyer will also have prepared a similar document; and the mediator will have read them and become familiar with your matter.
On the day of your mediation meeting, you should bring with you any documents that your lawyer or the mediator has requested, and paper or a notebook to take notes. Your lawyer may want to meet with you earlier, and it is imperative that you are on time, so that your lawyer has adequate time to brief and prepare you, and obtain any additional information or instructions from you.
You can expect and should be prepared to be at the meeting all day – and if needed, should arrange work, child care and other obligations accordingly.
During the mediation, the mediator may choose to conduct the process with parties and lawyers in the same room. Alternatively, the mediator may suggest that parties break off into separate rooms – in order to allow the mediator to discuss issues and settlement offers with parties separately.
At the end of the meeting, if settlement is not reached, parties may agree to come back and continue the process. There is no limit on how many mediation meetings may be needed. The number of meetings depends entirely on factors like the number and complexity of issues, the amount of financial and other documentation that is relevant and required, the willingness of the parties to communicate and cooperate, and how quickly parties are able to make decisions.
After each mediation meeting, parties will also have the opportunity to meet with their lawyers individually in order to debrief and discuss next steps.
Once settlement is reached, the lawyers will draft a final and legally binding separation agreement. Once this agreement has been drafted, each party will review it with their lawyer, ensuring that they understand its terms and conditions. The parties will then come together and sign the agreement, in front of witnesses – usually their lawyers; thus ensuring the agreement’s enforceability.
Throughout the mediation process, if parties are displeased or otherwise unsatisfied, or if it appears that settlement is unlikely, they can unilaterally withdraw from and end the process. This has no consequence, and parties can then try a different dispute resolution process or go to court.
Although mediation may not be suitable for all couples or people, the process is less costly and timelier than court, and promotes communication and amicability between parties. For more information on mediation, please visit our website or call us to schedule an initial consultation at 905-581-7222.
I hope you found this video informative and helpful. Thank you for watching.
If you would like to speak with one of our lawyers about assisting you with your Mediation, please contact us at 905-581-7222 to book a consultation.
Please note: The script may not be exactly what is spoken, but contains the same information as presented in the video.