July 27, 2011



What Happens at Our Family Mediation Meetings?

You and your former spouse will meet together with me, Marla Gilsig, as your family law mediator. My role as a mediator is not to decide the outcome of your dispute, you and your former spouse are the decision makers. Through a series of meetings that we all attend I’ll help you to make decisions and reach agreements by facilitating negotiations and helping you gather and keep track of information and documents.

Your lawyer and your former spouse’s lawyer may also attend the mediation meetings with the two of you. Your lawyers are part of the family mediation process, even if they do not attend the meetings. When you separate, your children are impacted. Sometimes older children also participate in the mediation and give their suggestions for parenting so that you have their input when making your decisions.

To ensure your family’s emotional and financial needs are being addressed, I encourage you to work with other professionals during the family mediation process, such as psychologists, counsellors, financial advisors, divorce financial planners, accountants and tax experts.

I begin the mediation process by meeting with each of you separately in a preliminary conference. These meetings last one to two hours and are used to assess whether the case is appropriate for family mediation and to determine the key issues you wish to resolve. Then I meet with both of you to review and sign the Agreement to Mediate. During our first joint family mediation meeting the three of us will create an agenda of the issues that need to be resolved.

For most divorcing couples, there are so many important decisions to make and skills that need to be developed that it can take from three to eight meetings to reach a settlement. The joint meetings last about three hours. At the end of each meeting, I summarize the decisions you and your former spouse have made and create a written summary for each of you.

When you and your former spouse decide that the issues in dispute have been resolved, I prepare a memorandum of understanding. Then a formal written agreement must be drafted setting out the terms of your settlement. I can prepare all the necessary written agreements because I am both a divorce lawyer and an accredited family law mediator. Alternatively, you may take the memorandums of understanding to your own lawyer and your lawyer can prepare the formal documentation. Before any written agreement is signed it is essential that each spouse seek independent legal advice. This means having your own lawyers review the terms of the agreement and explain what the agreement means in terms of your respective rights and obligations. Your lawyers may also give you additional legal advice relevant to your decisions to enter into and sign the agreement.


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