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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary process of parties working with a neutral third party (the mediator) to resolve conflicts through negotiation. The goal of mediation may be a written agreement to set out what each party has agreed to and will commit to. The process may also lead to a better understanding of the other persons concerns and views, with a commitment for a change in behaviour to help reduce or eliminate current and future conflicts.

What if the Mediator Takes Sides?

Family mediators are trained to be neutral and not side with one person or the other. At different times in the mediation process you may feel the mediator is doing that, but often, the other person is likely also feeling the same. Mediators try and balance the amount of time each person has to speak their mind, and mediators try to ensure all parties have enough time to exchange their ideas and concerns with each other. If you feel the mediator is biased, ask them about that and decide if their answer satisfies you as to their neutrality and ability to provide a fair service to you both. If it does not, you can end the process, or seek out a different mediator.

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Will I be Forced to Make an Agreement?

People need time to consider the short and long term consequences of signing any agreement. If you are working towards a written agreement, you should get INDEPENDENT LEGAL ADVICE from your own lawyer before signing anything. A competent mediator will strongly advise you to consider all the issues and to seek out independent advice before committing to anything in the agreement. If you feel pressured to agree, you can simply end the mediation session by leaving. It is a VOLUNTARY process and you have to feel comfortable with the mediator, the process, and the agreement you are working on.

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How Long Does it Take?

Some people are better at negotiating issues than others. Some people are angry and need time to get past that and work productively on the issues that are part of the conflict. Some families have very complicated situations that require more time to discuss and resolve. The more you can prepare ahead of time for the mediation session, the better.

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How Much Will it Cost?

Mediators will tell you up front what they charge per hour; and sometimes you can negotiate this with them if they offer a sliding scale of fees. The parties to the mediation share all the costs either equally, or as they agree between them. Most mediators accept payments at the end of each session, or may ask you to pay a retainer to cover the first few hours of time. The more efficient and businesslike the negotiation, the faster it usually goes, so don’t use the mediation session as therapy, or an opportunity to vent your anger on the other person. Those issues can be better addressed in counseling.

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How Can I Prepare for a Mediation Session?

  • think through what you really want, that will satisfy your concerns
  • decide to be businesslike and use the mediation time to work productively
  • locate and bring with you all documents, financial information, and a brief point-form history of the situation, or chronology of events
  • do any homework assigned to you after the previous session such as finding the value of an asset, locating documents or confirming dates that are important to the issues
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Concerned About Abuse in Your Relationship?

Mediation works best when both parties can discuss fairly and evenly between them the issues to be resolved If there is a history of verbal, emotional or physical abuse in your relationship, mediation may not be appropriate for you. If you are scared at the consequences of speaking up in the mediation process, or afraid of physical harm in being near the other person, discuss this with the mediator before you start any joint sessions. Sometimes with good supports from counselors and others, a person who has experienced abuse may be able to negotiate a good outcome in the mediation process. However, physical and emotional safety comes first, so if you have doubts about entering into a process of mediation, look at what other options you have to resolve the issues, such as going to court, or having a lawyer negotiate on your behalf.

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