Divorce is a complex process, and most couples want to avoid going to court because it is mentally, emotionally, and physically taxing. Instead, divorce mediation is a much better alternative that can settle matters between you and your spouse.
If you don’t want to give away control to a judge to make decisions, then we recommend opting for a divorce mediation lawyer. However, if you don’t know anything about this process, you have come to the right place.
As the best family mediation lawyers in Whitby, we have created a complete guide to help you understand this alternative to trial.
What is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is where a mediator takes charge of the divorce process by facilitating collaboration to help you and your spouse settle matters. They keep a neutral stance and help you stay focused on your goals to ensure a fair outcome for both parties.
If you and your spouse don’t agree on important matters, you can seek a divorce mediation lawyer instead of going to court. Let’s review some of the top matters a divorce mediator can help you settle:
- Child custody and support
- Parenting arrangements
- Debt division
- Property division
- Spousal support
- Separation agreements
- And much more
You will have complete decision-making power during this process, and the mediator will facilitate you and your spouse to reach an agreement. Then, you can create an agreement and submit it to the court to begin your divorce proceedings.
Divorce Mediation vs. Traditional Divorce Route
Any couple that doesn’t want to take the traditional divorce route of filing for a divorce in Ontario can opt for divorce mediation. Let’s review the main differences between the two to help you decide which route to select for your divorce proceedings:
|Traditional Divorce Proceedings
|Both parties, with the help of the mediator
|As quickly as you want
|A year or even more
|Divorce mediation lawyers can save trial cost
|High because of trial and court appearances
|Can be created in a flexible manner
|You will have to stick to the guidelines of the judge
|Can be according to what you and your spouse agree to
|Severs all assets during divorce
We recommend opting for divorce mediation to sort out your issues. It will provide you with the flexibility you need to sort your issues and have some decision-making power.
On the other hand, a contested divorce should be your last resort when you and your spouse have exhausted all other options and still can’t come to an agreement.
You can also learn more about annulment vs. divorce to make an accurate choice of the route you will take.
What Does a Divorce Mediation Lawyer Do?
It is vital to understand the role of the divorce mediation lawyer to decide whether they are the right choice for you.
You can think of them as guides who will help you decide on various issues, which can include the following:
- How you and your spouse will divide your assets?
- Which assets do you want to divide?
- What kind of custody arrangement will work best for you, your spouse, and your child?
- Is child support or spousal support appropriate in your unique case?
- Determining the amounts of support payments based on your case
Remember that a mediator will not represent you in court or argue on your behalf. Instead, they will maintain a neutral stance and help you and your spouse choose different options and reach an agreement on important matters.
Top 3 Benefits of Opting for Divorce Mediation
Most couples don’t even think of this route during divorce proceedings, but there are many benefits to opting for divorce mediation. These can include the following:
Customize the Agreement to Your Needs
One of the top benefits of mediation is that a family mediation lawyer can help you and your spouse customize an agreement based on your needs.
You and your spouse will be working with the mediator to come to an agreement that will be legally binding. The mediator will take both your needs into account and then come up with a fair decision for both parties.
It Can Speed Up the Divorce Process
Nobody wants to drag a divorce because it can take an emotional toll. If you want a quick route, then divorce mediation can help speed up the process for you.
You will have a chance to resolve any disputes you have with your partner and come to an amicable solution. Then, you can submit the agreement to the courts and begin your divorce proceedings with ease.
The Success Rate is High
According to research, mediation has a high success rate, with over 85% of cases reaching a settlement.
Instead of going to court, try this process and settle matters first. However, it is not right for everyone, which brings us to our next point.
When is Divorce Mediation Not Recommended?
While the success rate of mediation is high, it might not be the right choice for all couples. Let’s review the top instances where divorce mediation may not be suitable for you and your spouse:
1. When Domestic Violence is Involved
Where domestic violence or other forms of abuse are involved, the process can become complicated. In such a case, hiring a divorce mediation lawyer may not be appropriate because it can trigger one spouse or expose them to further harm.
For such cases, we recommend seeking professional legal advice and letting the courts handle the case. They will decide the best course of action that will protect both parties while taking the children into account.
2. When there is a Refusal of Communication between Spouses
Relationships are complicated, and in some cases, one or both spouses refuse to speak to one another. The purpose of divorce mediation is to help you resolve your issues through healthy communication and coming up with solutions.
However, if there is refusal of communication, then mediation will not be the right choice for you. Instead, it is best to take such a situation to court or hire a divorce attorney to communicate on your behalf and resolve your issues.
3. When there is an Imbalance of Power between Spouses
Relationships are never 100% equal, but if the power imbalance is significant, then it can impact your decision-making. For example, if one spouse has full control over the finances, then the other spouse may be left feeling powerless during the proceedings.
If you feel this way, then divorce mediation will not be the appropriate choice. It will be more beneficial to hire a lawyer so you can equal the scale of this power imbalance.
Divorce Mediation Process: A Step-by-Step Guide
The process of divorce mediation can be quick and painless or long and complex, depending on the case. It is important to know what to expect so you can mentally and emotionally prepare yourself for the divorce mediation process.
Let’s review each step of the Ontario divorce mediation process to ensure you can make an informed decision regarding divorce mediation:
1. Decide Whether Divorce Mediation is the Correct Choice
Now that you have some information regarding the basics of divorce mediation, you can decide whether it is the right choice for you.
If you want to avoid stress and challenges during the divorce process, then we recommend you opt for this procedure. Couples who also want more control over their decisions should opt for mediation.
On the other hand, if your case is complex and there is a power imbalance, then it is best to take the matter to court. A judge will decide the right course of action for you and your spouse.
2. Decide What Type of Mediation you want to Opt For
There are two types of divorce mediation processes you can choose from: open mediation vs. closed mediation.
Open mediation is where you, your spouse, and the mediator can provide evidence in court about what happened during the process. This means that you can also share documents from the divorce mediation process.
On the other hand, closed mediation respects the privacy of the individuals. It keeps the details of your mediation meetings private.
In practical terms, this means that the meetings will remain private, and no one can repeat what was said. You will also only be allowed to share some of the documents from the mediation process later in the court.
Discuss this with your lawyer, and then decide what type of mediation you and your spouse are the most comfortable with.
3. Choose the Right Divorce Mediator in Canada
The right divorce mediator can make or break your situation. There are many mediators in the region, but it is crucial to conduct extensive research to select the right one for your needs.
One thing to remember is that both you and your partner must be comfortable with the mediator. After all, both of you will have to talk openly with them and discuss various concerns.
Here are some things we recommend you keep in mind when selecting a divorce mediator for your needs:
- Experience with divorce mediation, and specifically with similar cases to yours
- A proven track record of success
- Certifications and accreditations
- Positive reviews
- Ability to answer questions and explain everything in layman’s language
If you don’t know where to begin your search, you can connect with us for divorce mediation in Canada.
On the other hand, you can also check the local courts in your region or begin your search online for certified divorce mediators.
4. Go through the Intake and Screening Process
Once you decide to opt for divorce mediation and select a mediator, you and your spouse must meet them separately for intake and screening.
Mediators do this to ensure that they don’t waste your time and that they can begin the mediation process on the right foot. They will screen for issues such as:
- Mental health problems
- History of abuse between you and your partner
- And other issues between you and your spouse
These screenings are done to ensure a successful outcome for both parties in the long run.
5. Read and Sign the Divorce Mediation Agreement
After the intake and screening process, the mediator will decide to go through with your case. Once they do, they will create a divorce mediation agreement you and your spouse must sign.
The agreement usually includes the following:
- The name of the mediator
- Mediation schedule
- The issues on which you will require mediation
- Information you will disclose to the mediator
- How will disclose confidential information to the mediator
- The terms of payment
- How the mediator will end the process if you and your spouse fail to reach an agreement
We recommend you carefully read all the terms of the agreement. If you don’t understand anything, it is best to ask the mediator, as they will clarify your concerns.
6. Disclose Financial Information
To ensure the process of fairness, it is vital to disclose your financial information before you enter divorce mediation. Your mediator will help you determine what information you must share.
However, some important financial information you must disclose includes the following:
Anyone who wants to gather financial information for the divorce process can also check Forms 13 and 13.1. You don’t have to file these with the court, but they are practical templates that will help you gather the financial information you require.
7. Time to Begin the Divorce Mediation Process
It is now time to begin the divorce mediation process with a mediator. The number of sessions it will take you and your spouse will depend on the unique facts of your case.
We recommend you go into mediation with some preparation so you are equipped to handle the process. Here are some questions to answer to help you clarify how you will go into mediation and what you want out of it:
- What is your goal for divorce mediation?
- How long will the sessions be, and what will happen?
- What happens if you and your partner reach an agreement?
- What will take place if you and your partner don’t reach an agreement?
- What documents you will need to provide to the mediator?
Answering these questions will help you clarify how you will go through the process and what outcome you can expect.
The Cost of Divorce Mediation in Ontario
The cost of divorce mediation in Ontario is crucial to understand before deciding to opt for this route. It will vary based on the mediator’s experience, credentials, and much more.
However, a divorce mediator in Ontario can charge anywhere between $150 and $500 per hour. They can also provide you with packages, which can range anywhere between $15,000 to $20,000.
We recommend you contact the mediator directly to understand their costs and decide whether it is feasible for you or not. You can also learn more about the total cost of divorce in Ontario on our blog.
How Long Does Divorce Mediation Take?
The Ontario divorce mediation timeframes will vary based on a few factors. However, you expect it to take anywhere between a few weeks to months.
The factors that will determine how long divorce mediation will take will depend on:
- Case complexity
- Conflict levels between partners
- The ability of partners to reach agreements
- And much more
It will also depend on how much progress you make within each divorce mediation session. Some couples can quickly resolve issues, while others will take a long time.
We recommend you take the time to create a good mediation schedule to ensure you can resolve your matters as soon as possible. In the long run, this will help you and your spouse to settle matters amicably.
What is the success rate of mediation in Canada?
In Ontario, 87% of family mediation cases are resolved. On the other hand, the Northern Region has a success rate of 90%, while British Columbia has a success rate of 89% and Prairies 87%.
What can I expect at a divorce mediation?
You can expect to discuss topics, such as property and asset division, child custody, debt allocation, visitation agreements, spousal support, and financial matters.
What questions do mediators ask?
Mediators will ask you specific questions, depending on your divorce case. Most of the questions that they ask will depend on what you and your spouse want to reach an agreement on.
How do I prepare for divorce mediation?
You can prepare for divorce mediation by finding the right mediator, gathering all your documents, generating income and expense lists, and going with a healthy mindset. Gathering knowledge on the process will also help you feel more prepared as you go in for divorce mediation.
That was everything you needed to know about divorce mediation in Ontario. You will feel much more confident in selecting the right mediator and beginning the process of divorce mediation.
If you want an experienced mediator by your side, please feel free to get in touch with our law office to learn more about our process. We will be more than happy to help ease your divorce proceedings.
- Athena Narsingh is a trusted and knowledgeable lawyer in Scarborough. Her expertise spans real estate law, family law, adoptions and fertility law. A lawyer by profession and a humanitarian by heart, Athena Narsingh wants to help people become more familiar with the legal system and be well-informed to make important legal decisions.
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