Area of Law: Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) - Arbitration and Mediation
Answer # 0521
What is family mediation?Region: Ontario Answer # 0521
Family mediation is a highly popular choice for couples who want to move on in their lives after they have separated. In family mediation, a third party works together with the couple to help them negotiate a settlement without going to court. The decision to participate in family mediation is voluntary, and the parties themselves make the decisions rather than having a judge or arbitrator make the decisions for them. Research shows that parties who reach agreements in family mediation are more likely to follow through on them. For instance, children are more likely to receive child support when their parents mediated than when they went to court. This makes sense because the individuals have made their own decisions instead of having to abide by the decision of the court.
Recent research shows that of all the options available to separating couples, family mediation is usually the least expensive, the fastest and the most useful for parenting disagreements and as useful as any of the others for financial disputes. Couples who use family mediation services report universally high rates of satisfaction with the process and the outcome.
Family mediation is a good process choice for most, but not all, separating couples. It does not work unless both parties actually want to negotiate and are ready and able to do so. Family mediation is not a good option where:
- criminal charges have been laid and there are bail terms preventing contact,
- when there is an active Children’s Aid Society case,
- one party is afraid of the other, or
- where the parties are just too far apart in their positions.
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