Mediation is a voluntary settlement process where parties work together to find solutions which work best for them and their families.
Everybody’s life is different, finding solutions and agreements that work for each individual can be difficult but can be more effective and much less expensive than litigation. Participants in mediation are trying their best to come up with solutions and game plans that are practical and actually work. In the litigation realm of dispute resolution what can be lost for many people is the practicality of the “solution” and whether it will actually work given the parties’ interests and means. In mediation this practical approach is one of the first considerations. It is quite common for people to come up with very creative solutions which likely would not have been available to them in the traditional court model.
At its core, mediation is a without prejudice meeting wherein the parties are able to speak freely and honestly without having to have their words thrown back at them in Court (with the notable exception of statements which show children are at risk). The parties in a mediation are there voluntarily and are able to have much more of a say in what is going to happen in their lives.
Mediation is a very valuable tool for parties who want to limit costs and desire that the decisions being made in their lives are theirs. The agreements coming out of mediation are specifically tailored to the decisions of the parties and as such reflect what they want.
An agreement reached in mediation is not necessarily binding on the parties by itself and may require independent legal advice, especially where matrimonial property is at issue. Parties are always encouraged to consult with their counsel, if they have them, throughout the process. In coming to an agreement the parties have still provided much of the same information required in any other process and are agreeing to terms that they have worked out for themselves, with their own families in mind. This is a specific process that deals with each person’s sets of facts and tries, where it can, to move away from the generalities that the court system must operate under.
For more information please visit www.afms.ca and look at the frequently asked questions.