Family Law


How is mediation different from Collaborative negotiation?

Like Collaborative Practice, mediation strives to resolve spousal disputes outside of the courtroom. Mediation, however, employs the use of a neutral, third party mediator to facilitate the negotiations between you and your spouse. You can choose to attend mediation with or without counsel, and it is important to fully understand the differences between these two types of mediation before making a decision.

Our family law practitioners are all experienced in representing clients at mediations and Nicola Savin is also a trained and highly-skilled mediator.

Mediation without counsel

If you choose to attend mediation on your own, you should have a high level of trust in your spouse and feel comfortable advocating on your own behalf. The mediator cannot advocate for either of you, nor can the mediator advise either of you on the law. It is therefore important to seek legal advice before entering into mediation and to have a lawyer to consult with as you continue with the negotiations and finalize a settlement.

Your lawyer will help you understand the legal framework within which you are negotiating, as well as the possible long-term repercussions of the arrangements you are considering. If your mediation is successful, you will avoid the high costs and long timeframes associated with court proceedings and feel a sense of ownership of the resolution. The experience of working to a resolution together will also lay the groundwork for addressing future concerns surrounding your children or long-term spousal support issues.

Mediation with counsel

If you choose to attend mediation with counsel, the process is more formal. Generally, there will only be one mediation session – it may be a half-day or a whole day, depending on the complexity of the issues. Counsel will prepare mediation briefs setting out the issues and relevant supporting documents and the mediator will review these in advance. The mediator will determine whether to hold negotiations in one room with everyone present, or to break off into separate rooms, and may move between these options over the course of the session.

The presence of counsel and the formality of the process mean this option may work for you if communication is difficult, there is less trust, or the issues are complex. There still needs to be enough good will to jointly work towards a resolution, since no settlement is reached without an agreement. If mediation is successful, the courts and the higher costs and longer timeframes associated with them, can be avoided.

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