How Do I Prepare For A Mediation?

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How To Prepare For Mediation?

Mediation is a process in which the parties agree to an impartial facilitator (a neutral third party) assisting them in reaching a voluntary settlement on issues in a dispute. The mediator does not make a decision, and the parties may terminate the process at any time. Mediation is generally voluntary, confidential and unbiased. Where one achieves a voluntary settlement, it will become binding when the parties sign a formal settlement agreement. Parties in mediation may still seek independent legal advice (we highly encourage parties in a legal case do to so).  Mediation can be a very effective tool to resolving your family law issues, and is encouraged by our Court system.  So, how can you best prepare yourself for Mediation? Below are some ways to ensure you are using your mediation sessions effectively and efficiently:

  1. Consider Getting Independent Legal Advice.

Typically, it is a good idea to sit down with a lawyer for a few hours to obtain legal advice on your issues. This will allow a lawyer to go through your situation with you and explain the law in Alberta. Understanding your legal rights and obligations regarding your your spouse can be helpful in mediation. This is because it will provide both parties with insight with what the law expects of them. In addition, you will also have an idea of a reasonable range of possible outcomes.  It is important to understand that your mediator cannot give you or your spouse legal advice. They are a neutral third party and, as such, they will only be able to provide legal information.

  1. Consider What Issues Are Very Important To You And Consider Where You May Be Able To Compromise.

Mediation is not an adversarial resolution option.  It may require you and your spouse to ‘meet in the middle’ on some issues. Mediation prevents you from spending exorbitant amounts of money on lawyers and the Court system.  Further, it often allows parties to reach a final outcome sooner than the Court process. finally, where possible, mediation allows the parties to work together to find a resolution. As such, knowing where you are willing to bend will help expedite the mediation process.

  1. Review Your And Your Spouse’s Financials And Consider Financial Disclosure.

It is important for the parties to both have a good understanding of each other’s assets, debts and prospects going into mediation. This is so that there is an exchange of all the necessary information to reach an efficient and effective resolution.  A standard set of financial documents is outlined in a Standard Notice to Disclose, a copy of which can be found here:

  1. Organize And Bring With You The Financial Disclosure.

You are obligated to exchange some level of financial disclosure prior to entering into an Agreement with your spouse.  If you choose to book mediation with one of our mediation lawyers, they will be in a position to tell you what documents to exchange between parties prior to entering into a settlement.

  1. Bring The Appropriate And Relevant Documents With You! 

If other documents seem relevant, for example a recent appraisal on a joint property, it will be important to bring anything you wish to rely on when discussing the outstanding issues.  If there is a prior Agreement, such as a Pre-Nuptial Agreement, or any interim Court Orders, it will be important for your Mediator to see those documents, so bring them with you when you attend. It is important that you bring any documents that you think are relevant. This will prevent you from having to adjourn or pause the mediation in order to exchange information.

  1. Consider Attending Counselling Prior To Attempting To Resolve The Many Issues That Present Themselves At The End Of A Relationship.

A relationship breakdown can be a very emotional experience, and at times, not dealing with those emotions can hinder settlement.  It is important that you get the emotional support you may need in advance of mediation. This will ensure that your ability to reach a resolution is not hindered by those emotions.

  1. Do Your Homework On Your Mediator.

Effective mediators can be a very helpful tool to resolve outstanding issues.  Just like your respective legal counsel, you want to ensure you are going to a mediator with the requisite experience, both to mediate, and to understand the issues in light of the current law in Alberta.

  1. Do Not Come To Mediation To ‘Win’, Or Be Flexible In Your Definition Of “Winning”.

Often, mediation involves coming up with a resolution to outstanding issues. This allows parties to reach a resolution faster, keep control of the decisions they are making, avoiding the matter going to Court, and/or preventing another expensive and time consuming process. Mediation also allows you to craft your own future, instead of having the courts making a decision for you.  With that, mediation often involves both parties compromising from their ‘best case scenario’ in each and every issue.  It can be helpful to spend some time thinking about how you may compromise and come to the mediation table ready to finalize the outstanding issues, understanding that will likely require compromise.

To book a mediation with one of the mediation lawyers at Kahane Law Office, feel free to contact us and we would be happy to help.