Family mediation

Family Mediation 

 What is family mediation?

Family mediation is a method of conflict resolution that attempts to build or rebuild the family connection in the event of rifts, separation or divorce. Despite the break-up of the couple, parental responsibilities, where applicable, continue and are worth performing in a mutually respectful climate.

Basically, these types of situations lead to major changes in the role played by the parents within the family unit that is breaking up and their roles will have to be redefined, particularly through an agreement. Because it is based on the autonomy of individuals, mediation allows the parents to discuss and negotiate the agreement so that it will meet their personal needs and safeguard the interests of their children.

Mediation also helps reduce parental anxiety about the consequences of the break-up. The potential to reduce tension and insecurity in children has also been observed and demonstrated, which is an effective incentive for any parent to participate in the mediation process.


What are the advantages of mediation?

Family mediation, like other types of mediation, encourages a spirit of cooperation rather than confrontation and has a many advantages. First, the parents decide the topics of discussion, which is unlike the less flexible judicial process. They have the leisure of choosing their mediator from a list of mediators accredited by a professional order. And above all, there are no surprises or disappointments, as in a judgment, since the parents are responsible for deciding the conclusions of their agreement.


When is the right time to go into mediation?

Parents may use mediation:

  • before making the decision to separate;
  • to review an agreement or a judgment;
  • before a divorce or separation judgment is made;
  • during the proceedings before the court;
  • to change a previous mediation agreement;
  • after a judgment is made, if a change occurs in the situation of one of the parents.

What topics are discussed in family mediation? Are there limits?

The mediator, who is an impartial independent third party, makes sure that the parents feel free to speak openly about their expectations and needs as concerns the other parent and that they know that the mediation process is fully confidential, while keeping in mind the well-being of the children. The parents then discuss at a convenient location with a positive atmosphere but without particular constraints or rules, except those they want to include in their mediation.
Since mediation requires a different logic than the logic of confrontation, which is what we are used to when solving family disputes, the communication and cooperation involved in mediation make it possible to look for solutions that meet the needs of the parents and the children in many different aspects of their current lives. The topics that are usually discussed are property division, child custody, visiting rights, the right to take children on outings and the support payment obligation. But because each couple has “its own story” and specific environment, all topics that help reach these objectives will be discussed.

Who decides on the custody of the children?

The mediator does not decide on the future custody of the children, but makes sure that the parents talk to each other and communicate openly about the reasons for their preference for one type of custody or another. The issues involved in child custody and visiting rights are always discussed and often negotiated in mediation sessions. As previously mentioned, the break-up of a couple profoundly transforms the family, and each parent has to define or redefine
their role. Mediation allows the father and mother to discuss their needs and expectations as concerns the type of custody they prefer. Naturally, it is better for the parents to agree on dividing up their time and responsibilities as concerns the children since they are better placed to decide these important matters; this is the objective of family mediation. However, if they cannot reach a consensus on custody, only the judge can ultimately make a decision.  

In mediation, can the parents decide on the amount of the spousal support for the children?  

The issue of spousal support is regularly discussed in mediation when the parents negotiate the custody of their children. After the parents have agreed on dividing up the time with the children, the mediator can suggest that they determine the budget for the children’s expenses. Parents have to refer to the spousal support scale to determine the basic contribution for a parent. However, a child may have specific needs or the parents may want to consider other factors when determining the expenses included in the budget. A mediator can help parents better understand how to share their children's expenses based on their incomes and the amount of custody that each has. In that way, parents can decide on the amount of the support at the end of the process in full knowledge of the facts.


How much does the mediation process cost?

A mediation process costs a lot less than a court process. For their first request, parents with at least one dependent child receive six (6) paid mediation sessions, and three (3) sessions for requests to review an agreement or a judgment. If the parents require additional mediation sessions due to the complexity of their situation, they pay for them at the rate established by law. As for those who do not or no longer have a dependent child, they can receive the services of a mediator of their choice at their own expense.


Who do I contact to take advantage of the paid sessions? Can the mediator help me with the process?

The mediator informs you of the number of sessions to which you are entitled. In doing so, the mediator asks if you have already received mediation sessions in the past or if a judgment has been rendered.


Will I be given a document by the mediator?

At the end of the process, the mediator provides each of the parents with a summary of the full and partial agreements they have made. The agreement is not a judgment or a contract or a consent that can be filed at court. The written agreement is rather the end result of the mediation process and includes the items on which the parents agree. They can use it as their guide or reference in the event of a misunderstanding. It has been demonstrated that people who participate in negotiating an agreement in mediation respect the agreement more than a decision made by an authority (i.e. a court). If there is no final agreement, the mediation will still have allowed the parents to clarify the situation, the interests at stake and their potential options.