Divorce and separation is never easy and this is often the worst period of a family's life.
While mediation cannot solve every case, it is successful in most cases.
Mediation is a voluntary process in which Stephen is an unbiased neutral third party who will not make decisions for you, but shall assist the parents to negotiate the terms of an agreement. Mediation provides an efficient and cost-effective method of dispute resolution providing a forum for constructive and positive discussion between the parties. It provides an alternative to a trial or arbitration, where the outcome is imposed by a third party judge or arbitrator. At trial, there is often a winner and a loser. But in mediation, the parties have the final decision-making power and have control over the process and the result.
Stephen will be a facilitator and will assist in promoting respectful and productive communication. He is trained to establish and maintain a safe, confidential, communicative process, and to help participants reach an agreement on their own. Disputes are often multilayered and it takes a skilled mediator to peel them back and understand what’s at the core. A seasoned mediator has the skill to read between the lines and intuitively understand what the issues are that are not spoken about. In order to reveal underlying issues, the mediator needs to convey to them that the other side is giving conciliatory signals. Such commonalities and signals are usually overlooked by parties who are in dispute. In order to make them see these signals and common interests, it takes much restating and reframing of positions by the mediator.
Mediation gives separating couples a more affordable and peaceful way to quickly and efficiently separate, without damaging dignity or children. The demand for mediation has never been greater with the courts in Ontario often suggesting or ordering the parents to use mediation in order to resolve their parenting issues.
The Mediation Process
Once both parties have indicated their willingness to mediate, Stephen will meet with each party individually prior to commencing the first joint session. He does this to explain the process with the participants, to determine each party’s perspective on the issues to be resolved and to begin to identify possible resolutions. He will also consider whether mediation is appropriate and whether any safeguards need to be put into place to address power imbalances.
At the first joint session, ground-rules for communication are established, issues are identified and options are explored.
Sometimes Stephen will invite a child or children's views, wishes and presences into the mediation, if he thinks that will help move the matter forward.
The number of sessions required depends on several factors and sometimes the parties may wish to seek legal advice as to the implications of their choices. They may also need to gather information that will help to identify solutions and narrow the issues.
Once an agreement is reached, Stephen shall draft a memorandum of agreement and will review it with the parties. The parties are encouraged to seek independent legal advice during the process as needed and their respective lawyers shall make it a legally binding document called a separation agreement.
If parties are immovable Stephen may carefully point out the alternatives to mediation, and the route that the case will often take if mediation fails comes with risks. A judge’s decision may well be one where neither side is getting what it wants. It is in only in rare cases that one party gets all they want. Compromises are the rule. Realizing this will often keep the parties at the table and make them more flexible so that a stalemate position is avoided, which is the first step to a settlement.
The cost of mediation will be shared between the parties.
Stephen offers financial mediation services in collaboration with a financial divorce specialist. This individual will assist parents with division of assets, finances or child support.