Some people go to Court to teach their spouse a lesson. Some people just want to resolve their matrimonial issues to move on with their lives and are open to compromise. If you are the latter, you should consider, mediation. But that’s not the only thing you should consider. Ask yourself: are you both reasonable and open to compromise? If the answer is no and you think your spouse is just out to get you, it may actually be cheaper and less time-consuming to go to Court as difficult as it may be. This is because going to court will guarantee you a judgment and an end to your matter. Negotiation and settlements are sometimes more time consuming with all the back and forth and may not result in a settlement which means you have to litigate. This can mean paying more legal fees than expected. Contact us to assess your case and see what road is a better road to take in your case.
Family Lawyers are experienced in knowing when to fight and when to settle. It is always recommended to consult with a family lawyer to choose your strategy. It would be very disappointing if you spent time and money to undergo mediation and be left with no settlement and an expensive trial to go through.
Family Law Mediation
Mediation can be casual or formal. Casual mediation is when you sit with a neutral third party who will try to get you and your spouse to settle your case. This can be your friend, family member or a professional. Casual mediation is often not effective. There are many reasons for it such as:
- Not having a lawyer to help you mediate and advise you of your rights can mean any agreement you reach can be set aside or cancelled due to lack of independent legal advice – there are countless court cases attesting to this fact;
- The informal mediator does not know family law so even if you reach an agreement it may not be enforceable because it does not comply with the BC Family Law Act or the Divorce Act; and
- If your spouse decides to cancel the agreement, they have a good chance of doing so because the mediation with an untrained mediator can be ineffective or invalid.
Formal mediation takes two forms:
- You and your spouse agree to the identity of a mediator who is often an experienced family lawyer or a retired judge; or
- You or your spouse start something called the Notice to Mediate. Once this Notice if served, your spouse is compelled to attend mediation. The process often takes three months. You will have to exchange all required documents for the mediator to be able to familiarize him or herself with your case such a mediation brief, document disclosure, etc. A mediation brief sets out the facts of your case and your position on issues such as child support, child custody, spousal support and property division.
Pros and Cons of Mediation
Pros of Family Law Mediation
- Mediation is less costly than litigation and court proceedings. It is often a voluntary process.
- It is very important that you choose an effective mediator who you trust to resolve your case. You should ask a family lawyer for a referral for a good family mediator. There are many good mediators in BC that will knock sense into a case and push parties to settle their dispute.
- If mediation is successful, you can finish your case with a separation agreement, file it in court and always remember that you avoided a trial which is a terrible experience for most people.
Cons of Family Law Mediation
- The disadvantage of mediation, especially formal mediation, is that there is no guaranteed outcome and no final result can be reached by anyone if you or your spouse do not mutually consent to the outcome. This means, you risk losing money on mediation without obtaining a result.
- Mediators charge an hourly rate to mediate which ranges between $250 to $600 per hour (whereas for example settlement conference do not have this fee).
- If mediation fails, you will have to continue the court’s process which often means double the time and legal fees wasted on having a final result.
To know the best way to end your family law case, get in touch with us for a consultation. It can be the best investment you will ever make regarding your separation.