Divorce mediation is an alternative method to the traditional litigation process, which is not led by a lawyer, but a mediator. A mediator is a qualified and trained professional that helps parties respectfully and fairly negotiate dispute terms. The areas of focus typically involve divorce and separation agreements, the division of assets, child or spousal support, child access, and parenting plans.
The mediator’s role is to facilitate conversation, explain the laws surrounding the separation, and draft documents outlining the terms agreed upon by both parties. You leave the process with a legally binding separation agreement and parenting plan, if needed. Since mediators are neutral third parties and not lawyers, we cannot provide legal counsel at any point during the mediation.
If parties wish, Rola would like to explore reconciliation before discussing the separation agreement. If reconciliation is not on the table, then discussing, negotiating, and drafting the separation agreement would take place.
Divorce and Separation Agreement
A separation agreement is a legal contract between a couple. It’s a written record of how a couple has settled issues related to their separation. You don’t need a separation agreement to separate. Making a separation agreement is usually a faster and less expensive way to settle issues than going to court.
A divorce or separation agreement is an agreement that is prepared following the breakdown of a relationship. It confirms the terms agreed upon between the parties in relation to relevant topics such as:
- Division of family property/matrimonial property
- Child support
- Spousal support
A divorce or separation agreement may address some, or all of these issues. It can be drafted to be either interim (temporary) or final in nature.
When children are involved in family mediation, they are constantly mentioned. The best interests of the children are put at the forefront of the negotiation.
A family mediator helps with negotiating a co-parenting plan that is crucial to ensuring that you and your partner will successfully co-parent moving forward. Having a solid co-parenting agreement in place is not only to help parents avoid future conflict, but it is also important for the health and well-being of the children. Parenting plans should reflect the needs and interests of the children to ensure that children have the opportunity to thrive in an environment where the foundations lay on strong and respectful co-parenting practices.
A parenting plan is typically one of the most important elements in a separation or divorce in which children are involved. Parenting plans need to address two main topics:
- Sharing of parenting time
- Determination of how parenting decisions will be made
Parenting is governed by the Divorce Act (Canada) for divorcing parents and the Family Law Act of each province for separating parents. Under both pieces of legislation, decisions around parenting are based on the best interests of the child.
In creating a comprehensive parenting plan, there are many elements that we will need to consider. For example:
- How will important decisions for the children be made?
- How will time be scheduled/shared with the children?
- How will holidays be shared?
- How will you select and schedule extracurricular activities, school events, and medical/dental appointments?
- How will consent/notice of travel with the children be decided?
- What will occur when one of the parents needs alternate care of the children during your parenting time?
Child support is a monthly payment from one parent to the other to assist in the financial obligations of raising a child. It is one of the legal rights of the children. When parents separate or divorce, they should try to agree on the amount of child support. If they disagree and leave it for the court to decide, the court will use guidelines to determine child support payments. Some child support guidelines fall under federal law, while others are under provincial or territorial law, depending on the family’s situation.
Family mediators can work together with parents to agree on a payment that is fair and equitable to the children and to both parents
Spousal support is a payment from one spouse to the other for the purpose of providing necessary financial support. Three primary issues are considered in relation to spousal support: (1) Entitlement, (2) Amount, (3) Duration.
Division of Matrimonial/Family Property
The division of property after the separation of a married couple is governed by the Matrimonial Property Act of each respective province (“MPA”).
Most property is considered “matrimonial property” under the MPA or “family property” under the FPA. “Property” includes both assets and debts, whether owned jointly or separately and includes things such as:
- Bank accounts
- Business interests
- Lines of credit
- Credit card debts
- Other loans
Property is typically valued at the date of separation. There are exceptions to this general rule. There can also be some property which is not shared between spouses. This is called “exempt” property.