Divorce Mediation

Divorce Mediation in Victoria, BC

Couple Attending Divorce MediationIt is possible to get a divorce in Victoria without ever stepping foot in a courtroom.

Divorce is a legal process that must involve a judge signing the decree but this can often be arranged without a court appearance from either spouse.

Even if there are contested matters, most of these can be settled out of court before the case ever reaches a judge. This can save a lot of the stress, expense, and delays that divorce proceedings are notorious for.

The overworked family law system in BC prefers to avoid litigation and encourages mediation, arbitration, and collaboration to settle disputes.

Divorce mediation is a viable option for most couples who are on reasonable terms.

The experienced divorce mediators at Jennings Family Law provide a practical, non-adversarial, cost-effective way to reach a separation agreement so that you and your ex can move on with your lives as soon as possible.

What happens with divorce mediation?

Divorce mediation is known as an “alternative dispute resolution” method.

Mediation aims to resolve differences between parties in any major dispute. In the context of a divorce, the main disputed matters are generally:

  • Custody and parenting arrangements for the children
  • Property/debt division
  • Spousal support
  • Child support

The divorce mediation process attempts to guide two spouses towards a legally binding separation agreement that sets out all of the terms of your divorce.

You remain in control of the final decision-making process but if you both sign the agreement, you effectively agree to abide by its terms.

Who can be hired as divorce mediators in Victoria?

As you may imagine, it is very important for the mediator you select to be independent, impartial, and skilled in the mediation process.

An experienced professional must understand all the main issues in a divorce, taking the emotions out of the situation and guiding disputing spouses towards a resolution.

It can be a challenge to remove the emotions from discussions with tensions running high during a separation. A divorce mediator is skilled at bringing outstanding issues into the open and facilitating respectful negotiation and collaboration between partners.

In Victoria, divorce mediators are often senior lawyers (like at Jennings family law) or retired judges.

We remain strictly neutral and are acutely aware of the relevant laws and well-qualified in mediating difficult situations and explaining the consequences of decisions made.

This gives you a good chance of a successful outcome.

Note that once a mediator has been hired, this person cannot represent either you or your spouse in litigation if no agreement is reached.

However, you may both hire collaboration or mediation lawyers to speak to the mediator and represent your best interests when seeking an agreement.

Why choose divorce mediation in Victoria?

For most separating spouses, litigation is not a desirable outcome. The courtroom is no place for families to discuss how to move forward with their lives.

Divorce mediation is an attractive alternative option for couples who are on speaking terms and want to maintain cordial relations as they settle their disagreements. This is especially so when children are involved and parents need to maintain a relationship after the divorce.

The many benefits of mediation include:

  • No court appearance may be necessary
  • You (not a judge) are in control of key decisions
  • You get to decide on your best interests
  • It is non-adversarial with no winner or loser
  • It is less formal and intimidating than litigation
  • Reduced stress for parents and children
  • Affairs remain private and confidential, unlike litigation which is a matter of public record
  • It’s less expensive than a court trial
  • Customized solutions are possible – rather than a strict application of the law
  • Less waiting and fewer delays than with litigation
  • Mediation can help preserve your relationship with your ex

If you and your spouse cannot work things out around the kitchen table, mediation is often the next best step.

Even if it can help you resolve some of the outstanding issues, you will generally save time and expense.

However, it is not for everyone.

When is mediation NOT suitable?

Mediation is sometimes not possible and, instead, an independent judge or arbitrator may be required to decide matters.

Mediation is probably not for you if some or all of the following apply:

  • You and/or your partner cannot see any possibility of signing and committing to a mediated agreement
  • You and your spouse are on very poor terms, in serious conflict, and too angry to negotiate
  • You have no interest in arranging an amicable separation
  • You are unconcerned by an adversarial approach in court
  • It is less formal and intimidating than litigation
  • You are unconcerned by your affairs becoming public
  • Time and money is no obstacle for you – you don’t mind waiting it out to get what you want

If none of these apply, divorce mediation may be the most affordable, quickest, and most effective solution to resolve disputes between you and your spouse.

How to prepare for divorce mediation in Victoria

Mediation works best when you and your spouse are well-prepared. You can rest assured that your mediator will be prepared. Several sessions may be required to reach an agreement, though this depends on the number and complexity of outstanding issues. You may or may not have a divorce lawyer representing you in these sessions.

The first session is very important and will set the tone for further meetings if necessary. Your mediator may meet with you and your spouse separately at first and then together.

You can prepare for this by:

  • Ensuring that all the facts of your case are known to your divorce lawyer and what your proposal is to your spouse
  • Informing your lawyer of your strengths/weaknesses as well as your spouse’s, and what your priorities/bottom-line positions are
  • Preparing a mediation brief for the mediator, outlining your position and the relevant facts/opinions/preferences/priorities
  • Forwarding your brief to the mediator prior to the first session so that your position is clear and the mediator can consider ways to facilitate an agreement before you meet
  • Providing full financial disclosure and preparing all necessary documentation to support your case
  • Being respectful in mediation sessions and explaining your side of the story clearly when you have a chance
  • Staying calm and not feeling pressured into accepting anything that is not in your best interests

Get help through divorce mediation

At Jennings Family Law, our divorce lawyers and mediators are committed to helping you achieve a prompt and cost-effective agreement with your spouse.

Contact us today for a confidential consultation and case evaluation.

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