Mediation Counselling

While many people understandably want to minimize their costs by going to mediation, paying a lawyer for even an hour's consultation prior to embarking on mediation could potentially save tens of thousands of dollars later.

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In Quebec, parents with children under the age of 18 have the right to five free hours of mediation with an accredited mediator after attending a parenting after-separation information session. Mediation can be an excellent way to work out the many issues which need resolving when spouses separate. However mediation is not for everyone. For example, it is not recommended if there has been physical violence in the family. Also if one spouse is much "stronger" than the other (i.e. experience in business negotiation, domineering personality, etc.), it may not be appropriate.

 

What is important to understand is that in mediation the mediator is there to help work out a solution, but not to suggest a solution nor give an opinion. A mediator's role is to help people negotiate. To fairly resolve matters in mediation it is important to have consulted a lawyer in order to understand the process and be aware of the law.

 

Grassby & Associés offers counseling to clients who wish to participate in mediation. Before you can decide if you should agree to shared parenting for example, it is important to know what it is and to understand that once you agree to try something it may be very difficult to change your mind later because a status quo will have been established.

 

Couples must each fill out a Statement of Expenses when there has been a request for spousal support. It is important to understand how to fill a Statement of Expenses and an attorney can guide you in this process. This can be a challenge when the other spouse has always been the one to handle the family's finances. Some people minimize their expenses, some exaggerate them.

 

It is important that both spouses go into mediation understanding the financial issues. For example, what does it mean to be married separate as to property or to be married in partnership of acquests? (See section on "Matrimonial Regimes"). Some spouses who earn $35,000 a year have no right to spousal support, while others might have a right to spousal support of $100,000 a year (See section on "Spousal Support").

 

What is your situation? Not knowing your rights and what you want before going into mediation can lead to unfair agreements. If you sign an agreement in mediation it is very difficult to set this agreement aside. Furthermore, attempting to do so will undoubtedly raise tensions when one of the spouses thought they had arrived at a settlement

 

During mediation, the mediator does not make any decisions or offer any advice. Ideally the mediator facilitates the negotiation process allowing the negotiation to proceed in a fair and enlightened way while both parties express their needs and expectations.

 

Our office has counseled many people who have participated in mediation and who have settled their problems this way. Sometimes we only meet with a person once, sometimes we meet with the person several times if advice is needed on how to respond to the position the other spouse is taking. Feeling confident about their rights helps spouses negotiate affirmatively and resolve things equitably.

 

Only a certified mediator can conduct family mediation.

 

For further information on family mediation, you may consult the Minister of Justice's webpage on the topic at:

http://www.justice.gouv.qc.ca/english/publications/generale/mediation-a.html