Why try subsidized family mediation before going to court?
By Cindy Holovac Leithead
Have you separated from your partner?
To Counsel – Do you have a client who wants to settle without going to family court, but cannot afford an expensive private mediator?
To Mental Health Professionals – Do you have clients trying to manage the turmoil of separation who have parenting or financial issues to resolve and prefer to avoid litigation?
Subsidized family mediation before filing legal documents may be the answer. It is cost and time effective, and often leads to satisfactory results for both parties.
Mediators are accredited, insured and required to meet specific standards. Fees are government-subsidized for each party based on their incomes and number of dependents. The service is available to all, either in-person or virtually by Zoom.
How to get started?
When both parties submit intake forms and Agreements to Mediate, a file is opened.
Each party will have a confidential one-hour intake meeting with the mediator. This meeting is free. It is an opportunity to assess if both parties are ready and for the mediator to provide any referrals that might help.
The facts may lead to a decision that mediation is not appropriate—perhaps the parties are not ready, they need legal advice, disclosure is not complete, or one or both need supports like a safety plan, help finding legal advice, or family violence referrals.
Proceeding to mediation is voluntary by both parties and the mediator; no party will be forced to mediate with the other if they do not wish to do so, for any reason.
Even if the intake meeting does not lead to mediation, both parties benefit from a confidential conversation about their needs and concerns, and from any referrals and supports they obtain.
Mediators do not report to the Court nor anyone about the intake meeting, unless a child is in need of protection, there is an immediate safety concern, or they are ordered by a court to do so.
We provide 6 hours of subsidized mediation. Issues that are resolved are summarized in a Mediation Summary Report (MSR). MSRs are not binding unless counsel are present to sign off on Minutes of Settlement. Parties are urged to obtain legal advice on their MSR, and mediators will help unrepresented parties connect with available legal supports.
Most parties who use our off-site mediation service settle some or all issues. Most find it to be a highly satisfactory experience. It is cost and time efficient. We have strong partnerships with @lao @famillyjusticecentre, the @barbraschliferclinic and other local resources, we can offer the parties a very useful service.