Negotiating During Your Mediation Series – Part 1
By Raheena Dahya, TFMS Roster Mediator
This series is designed to provide you with some tips and activities to assist you in preparing for your family law mediation.
Educate Yourself About the Law
While quarantine measures are in place, you can reach out to the Information Referral Coordinator (IRC) by phone for the court hearing your matter (or if you haven’t started court action, where you think your matter might be heard) to get resources and legal information.
When the courts eventually open to the public at large, we anticipate that you will be able to visit a Family Law Information Centre (FLIC) which will be available at any of the family courts in Ontario to get legal information that may be relevant to your matter.
You can reach each of the FLICs using the following numbers:
Superior Court of Justice, 361 University Ave.: 416-977-0718
Ontario Court of Justice, 47 Sheppard Ave.: 416-326-1694
Ontario Court of Justice, 311 Jarvis St.: 416-250-6161
Get Legal Advice
Agreements should be negotiated “within the shadow of the law”. This means that the agreement you negotiate should fall within the range of options that are available within the legal framework. As such it is important you understand the law as it applies to your circumstances.
If you qualify for legal aid, you can get legal advice on your family law matter. If you do not, you may be interested in getting legal advice through “unbundled services”. You can learn more about this through the Family Law Limited Scope Services.
You will require documentation to support your claim in your negotiation. Make sure you bring all the documents that your mediator has told you to bring and organize them ahead of time. This will help you familiarize yourself with your documents and help you make the best use of your time in mediation.
Know What You’re Asking For
Come to the mediation with your wish-list of outcomes. Also, do the self-care required to enable you to be flexible during the negotiation. Both parties will have to make some concessions and compromises in order to achieve an agreement that can work for everybody.
If you are struggling to organize your thoughts, some people find it helpful to list their needs and then their wants. Needs are the things you feel you really cannot give up – they are what you view as necessities. By contrast, wants are the things you would like but are willing to trade off, change, or give up.
Distinguish Between Positions and Interests
Another way to identify your desired outcomes is to distinguish between your ‘positions’ and your ‘interests’. Your positions are the outcome you are looking for. Your interests are your reasons for wanting the outcome you are seeking. Once you have a concrete understanding of your interests, it might be easier to brainstorm a variety of positions which you can then prioritize in order of your preference.