Family Mediation and Mediation-Arbitration
“People who were once together can have difficulty even speaking to each other. Often there is residual anger and guilt, fear, anxiety and distrust about the past and the future.”
A separation/divorce is a very hard time for everyone involved. It is overwhelming when you consider the emotional, family and financial implications of severing a spousal relationship. Emotions often run high.
The difficult situation can further deteriorate through an adversarial battle between lawyers and the courts. Some of our clients come to us from lawyer/court processes frustrated and on the edge of emotional and financial bankruptcy.
Mediation is an informal, respectful and productive way to solve separation/divorce disputes. Our highly skilled mediators help families through the difficult transitions related to separation and divorce. At Summit, we help clients redefine their families while maintaining and improving good positive family relationships.
At Summit, we..
- provide and guide our clients through a structured process which means our clients can focus on planning for their kids
- let the clients determine what issues they will negotiate. The mediator has expertise that will ensure all areas are considered but the clients decide what to negotiate
- encourage all our clients to seek independent legal advice during the mediation process to ensure decisions are made in consideration of their rights and responsibilities. Legal Aid (www.legalaid.on.ca) and the local Court House are good sources of information
- guide our clients to negotiate mutually agreeable settlements resulting in decisions that work for their unique family situation today and into the future
- provide a comprehensive package including a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), financial information and related documentation. The MOU report details all agreements made in mediation and provides the basis for a legal separation agreement.
Comprehensive Mediation – for clients who want to negotiate all issues at the same time – parenting plan, child support, property division and spousal support. At Summit we focus on the child’s best interest so parenting is always discussed first before financial issues are introduced.
Financial Mediation – our mediators have obtained specialized skills to support our financial mediation service. Financial mediation can include child support, property division and spousal support. Summit uses DivorceMate, the standard financial calculator used by all family law professionals.
In the case of separation/divorce mediation, pensions must be valued. A valuation can take 2 to 4 months so it’s smart to get that process started immediately. All of the information and forms are available at www.fsco.gov.on.ca.
Parenting (Plan) Mediation – parenting mediation can be highly emotional for both parents. Often parents have very different parenting styles and ideas about what is best for their children. Parenting plans consider all aspects of parenting: residential schedule, holiday, vacations, mobility, travel, dental/medical, communication, care exceptions, extracurricular, extended family and more.
Open vs. Closed Mediation
One of the many benefits of mediation over litigation is that discussions remain confidential to the process. Many people don’t realize that family court documents are public information. It’s important to understand the difference between open and closed mediation.
Closed mediations are what you expect. Clients can have an open and honest conversation about possibilities without the burden that exploring options might be used against them if they end up in court.
In open mediation, the clients agree that the mediator can make a report back to the court about what was negotiated in mediation.
At Summit, we believe the business of your separation/divorce should stay between you so we use a closed mediation process almost exclusively.