Family Law: Contention could be resolved in mediation

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Family Law: Contention could be resolved in mediation

Many divorcing couples in Ontario and other provinces choose to avoid litigation by exploring options for alternative dispute resolution. With the guidance of a family law mediator, couples may resolve contentious issues through communication and — when necessary — compromise. The mediator provides a platform for peaceful negotiation and does not provide legal advice, though the parties are typically accompanied by their respective legal counsel. Before attending the first mediation session, some preparation may be appropriate.

Although it is easier said than done, it may help both spouses to stay in control of emotions. Mediation is a process of negotiation, and understanding that the focus must be on the future rather than the past may help. Each party’s legal counsel can help prepare for the process and explain applicable rights. During mediation, the attorneys will focus on protecting their clients’ rights and offering insight and advice.

Entering mediation armed with all the necessary financial information is the best approach. This includes all assets — bank account and retirement fund balances, brokerage accounts, mutual funds, vehicles, real estate, annuities, stock and more. A list of debts is also important, including instalment amounts and balances on home equity loans and mortgages along with credit card, student loans, personal loans and any other financial obligations.

Being well prepared often contributes to the success of the mediation process. Along with negotiations about financial matters, couples can address any other contentious issues. Divorcing parents can negotiate child custody and parenting plans along with spousal support if applicable. With the guidance and help of a lawyer who is seasoned in dealing with family law matters and divorce, the trauma typically associated with a litigated divorce may be avoided. However, mediation is not the suitable solution for all, and when couples cannot agree, a lawyer can provide the necessary support during litigation in an Ontario court.

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