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Certified Specialist in Family Law by the Law Society of Upper Canada
Using the Services of Family Mediation Works
We are a mediation service that can accommodate mediation in any type of family dispute, at a convenient location, and for a reasonable cost.
All of our mediators are what the Ministry of the Attorney General of the Province of Ontario calls “comprehensive mediators.” This means that they are not only trained in mediation, but are trained in the law. They are able to give predictions as to court rulings in fact situations, so that the parties involved have the benefit of both legal principles and commentary about legal issues.
Since our mediators are also lawyers, they are entitled to draft the agreements that would reflect the understandings reached through the mediation session. These can be presented to the parties as draft agreements. This is very different than mediators who are not legally trained, and not able to draft the actual agreement. Our mediators can complete the mediation with a Mediator’s Report, which sets out what the parties have discussed, but they are also licensed and entitled to provide the legal service of the creation of the agreement.
The parties at the end do not have to go to a lawyer for the drafting of the agreement. They can always choose to go to a lawyer, if they wish to have independent legal advice as to what they should do, or if they want to have the draft agreement reviewed. It is their option.
The purpose of this program includes the following:
To resolve conflict, if possible, by having the parties work on the issues, through the guidance of the mediator, with an atmosphere and understanding that there should be consideration, compassion and a willingness to consider some compromise.
To strive for the creation of an agreement, which would be presented to the parties for approval and signature, which contains the elements of being fair and balanced, with both sides having an awareness of legal principles. (Since the mediator is also a lawyer, they can give information to both sides about legal principles or rules, but not giving any advice as to what any party should specifically do.)
To present to all sides the final product, in the form of a draft agreement, which if signed, would be legally enforceable, and thus bringing all conflict to a resolution
To complete the above steps in a convenient and time efficient manner, and at a reasonable cost.
The cost is very much controlled by the parties. A party could choose to go through this process, contributing towards the cost by paying only their respective portion (usually ½) of the costs of the mediator/lawyer. This means that they are obtaining the services of a lawyer at half of the usual cost.
If the process can be completed in two or three meetings, the overall cost will be a few thousand dollars. Each party will start with the initial deposit of $500. The mediator will go through the various steps, which involves individual meetings with all of the parties, group meetings with the parties, completing reports following meetings, completing any draft agreement that may be presented to the parties (which would go by e-mail so that it can be reviewed prior to the next meeting), and then completing the final end product. Even though the meetings may only be a couple of hours in length, there is significant work for the mediator prior to and following the meeting. It is quite common for the number of hours of the mediator being in the range of rarely less than six hours, and rarely more than 10 hours.
If the mediation process takes six hours of the mediator’s time, inclusive of HST, the total cost may be $3,000.
If the mediation process takes 10 hours of the mediator’s time, inclusive of HST, the total cost may be $6,000.
The above figures are based on hourly rates that would be discussed. There are also some incidental costs, which could include some copies, and some administrative costs for the Mediation Coordinator.
There may be other costs, but these are outside of the mediator’s control. For example, if the property had to be appraised, then there would be a payment for that process. If the parties required sworn Financial Statements, or a pension had to be valued, or other external costs are incurred, these would be in addition to the mediation costs. If either party wishes and expert accountant, or their own personal lawyer, or other professionals for assistance, this would increase the cost to that party, or sometimes the costs are agreed upon to be shared. However, these would be discussed and decided on by the parties as required.
As a final comment about costs, they could be significantly greater than is described, but that would only occur in a very unique situation, where there are many complicated concerns or issues to be resolved. At the first indication that a situation of this nature is arising, the mediator will have discussions with the parties about the changes that could occur in terms of the cost.
The parties execute a Mediation Agreement, which is a standard agreement for the situation. Each party usually contributes half of initial deposit of $1,000 (this would be $500 each). In some circumstances, the cost, by agreement, is paid entirely by one party. Then, the first mediation session starts, reports are created and costs are explained as the mediation process moves forward.
Successfully Finishing the Process with an Agreement
The final step is for the mediator to present a draft proposed agreement to both sides, suggesting that it be reviewed and that they consider the legal consequences of executing the document. If the document is to their satisfaction, each side signs it and then exchanges the documents. It is preferable that a signed copy of the agreement also be made available to the mediator.
Successfully Finishing, but Without an Agreement
It may be that one party or the other abandons the mediation process. The success is that at least the other side was willing to continue and that this may be something that a court would like to know, if the case goes in to court. The court system encourages parties to consider mediation, or other ways of resolving conflicts. If the parties do not do so, they may hold them responsible for the legal costs incurred in the court proceeding.
It may be that some issues are resolved, and if so, then an agreement may be executed on those issues which are resolved. Further, the unresolved issues may be more clearly identified.
It may be that the parties have unresolved conflicts. They may, through mediation, talk about an agreement for resolution, by arbitration. This would be where they choose an arbitrator, and a process of arbitration, for a ruling, according to law, on the issues that remain outstanding. This may avoid the parties having to go to court, and may be very cost effective as a means of resolving a conflict in which no agreement could be reached. We offer arbitration services through Arbitration Works.
It should be noted that most cases are resolved through the mediation process.
At Family Mediation Works main office in Mississauga, there are two boardrooms and a variety of individual meeting rooms. Our facilities are conveniently located, and have all that is required for the mediation process.
We have access to many other offices, which have the facilities that are required. What is needed is a room for the meeting, which can accommodate each party, and any representative that the party may have, and the mediator. There should also be an another room for private and confidential discussions with one party at a time.
The fact that the mediation process takes place away from the main offices of Family Mediation Works will not affect the quality of the mediation. The contacts with the parties, or draft agreements, are sent by e-mail. The communication is very efficient, regardless as to where the mediation process takes place.
Rather than the court-based separation and divorce process, married couples or couples living common-law can use Family Law mediation to help settle issues such as:
Custody of the child or children
Access to the child or children, including holiday and summer vacation schedules
Amount of child support and payment schedule, including special/extraordinary expenses
Amount of spousal support and payment schedule
Division of net family property, how to divide the matrimonial home