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What is Mediation? Why Should I Consider it?


Mediation is a form of alternate dispute resolution; it is a negotiation facilitated by a neutral third party (the “mediator”) Parties can attend with or without lawyers to assist.

There are advantages to mediation:

  1. It is generally more expeditious to attend mediation than obtain a Court date. Mediation dates are often available within one to two weeks.
  2. Mediation is less expensive than attending Court. If the parties reach a resolution they will have saved fees related to Questioning, Pre-Trial Conference, written briefs, trial preparation, and ultimately trial. If you negotiate a resolution where you end up with slightly less than you may have received in Court, you will still have the benefit of reduced legal fees and reduced mental/emotional stress.
  3. Mediation allows parties to deal with both legal issues and non-legal issues. Family law is tied up in emotion. Parties attending mediation can feel heard, and express the why behind their wants.
  4. The parties retain control of the outcome. A judge does not know you, your family, or your children. You decide what is best for your family.
  5. Judges are governed by legislation and case law precedent. Parties can agree to something “outside the box” that works for their family, which may not be something a Court can or will order.
  6. Mediation is without prejudice. This means offers to settle cannot be shared with the Court at a later date. Without prejudice negotiations allow both parties to engage in open and honest communication without being concerned that potential concessions may be used against them at a later date.
  7. Under Rule 4.16 of the Alberta Rules of Court, parties are required to participate in a dispute resolution process before scheduling a trial. If you do not settle all your matters, you will leave mediation with a clearer idea of the positions, perhaps have narrowed the issues/resolved some, and taken a procedural step in your litigation process.

Things to consider before attending mediation:

  1. The mediator assists the parties in reaching an agreement. The mediator does not decide who is “right” and who is “wrong”.
  2. The parties need to negotiate in good faith. If one party is not emotionally ready, or if one party is taking a “scorched earth” approach, the mediation may not be successful.
  3. Mediators will screen for family violence before scheduling. The existence of family violence does not preclude a trained mediator from conducting the mediation – the mediator will adapt the process to meet concerns.
  4. The training your mediator has is important. A mediator who is also a lawyer will be able to provide legal information during the process.
  5. A mediator cannot give you legal advice. You should consider consulting a lawyer before attending, or after with respect to the proposed resolution.

If you want more information of mediation, are looking to hire a trained mediator, or want independent legal advice with respect to a mediation call Bell and Stock today. We are able to help.

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