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divorces that take a long time

Five Tips for making mediation sessions productive and successful

Whatever your family law legal dispute may be, there is a reasonable likelihood that you can resolve it without having to go to court. Avoiding litigation has numerous benefits, but broadly, it is frequently easier, faster, less expensive, less conflict-promoting, and more cooperative to employ mediation compared to litigation.

There are some things you can do to increase the chances that your mediation sessions will go as smoothly and productively as possible.

Tip one: Be prepared

Having all the information you need and working with your lawyer to prepare for the sessions can be invaluable. The more prepared you are, the less stressful the process can be and the more you will maximize the chances of reaching a speedy resolution.

Further, when you are organized and know what to expect, you can avoid acting out of pure emotion, you can gain the trust of your ex and the mediator, and you will be able to make informed, rational suggestions and decisions.

To prepare for mediation, you should ideally:

  • Have all pertinent paperwork organized and try to provide your documents in advance;
  • Make a list of your priorities;
  • Consider creative solutions to legal issues;
  • Discuss the logistics and dynamics of mediation with your lawyer.

These preparatory measures can help you feel more confident and determined to be productive during mediation sessions.

Tip two: Understand the tone

Mediation is not about winning, punishing the other person, or getting everything you want. It is about reaching agreements with the other person so you can move forward, providing peace and stability not only for yourself but more importantly – for your kids.

Therefore, it can be beneficial to approach mediation by focusing on cooperation and problem-solving. If your tone is combative or aggressive, this is nothing but a prescription for wasting everyone’s time. 

Tip three: Follow the rules

While mediation is more flexible and informal than litigation, there are (non-legislated) rules to the mediation process in Ontario. Knowing and following sensible standards can help parties get through sessions more peacefully and maximize the chances of resolving the issues.

Depending on the participants, their issues, and the mediator, the rules can dictate how long each person speaks, whether they meet in the same room or separately, and which topics may be off-limits.

If a person breaks the rules, they could set the process back. In some cases, refusal to follow the rules can mean the case ultimately winds up in court.

Tip Four: Recognize the value of mediation

Again, there are several benefits to mediation. Recognizing these benefits can help you overcome obstacles that might otherwise lead to litigation and find success as you work together to reach agreements.  (In some cases, a combination of mediation and arbitration may be the best route.  In other cases, unfortunately, you may need to access the courts.)

Tip Five: Know when to use other dispute resolution methods 

As attractive as mediation truly is, know when to move on to another method or when not to even try mediation in the first place.  Not every case is suited to mediation.  You need the benefit of a competent family law lawyer’s advice in order to parse out the wheat from the chaff. 

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