We specialize in working with self-represented people and have since 2009! Whether it’s mediation, arbitration or coaching we can help you find a solution or at least move things forward. 

While we work with some great lawyers, we know that the general public doesn’t have the same relationship or trust in lawyers. We don’t judge your reasons, we just want to help. 

Contact Us or schedule your free call below to find out how we can help.


Are you separating or divorcing and looking for a lower cost and lower conflict alternative to court?

Disagree about where Mom should live? Fighting about Dad’s will?

Communication challenges? Blended family or family business decision making problems?

Need help with a workplace mediation, small claims dispute or other civil law issue?


We know that every family is different, and that means every journey of dispute resolution is different as well.

Families First Mediation is unique because we offer different processes to sort through your family challenges. We’ve found that by offering not only coaching, mediation and arbitration but also a hybrid of mediation and arbitration, you can select the best process for you without having to go elsewhere.

  • Can you or do you want to communicate with the other party directly while keeping the decision making within your family? Ask us about Mediation.
  • Can’t work together but don’t want to go to court to have decisions made in the public eye? Ask us about Arbitration.
  • Do you want to try mediation but have a back-up plan in case you can’t settle all of your issues? Ask us about Mediation-Arbitration.
  • Do you want to know about your options or need support for another process you are in? Ask us about Coaching or a Families First Forum.


The professionals at Families First Mediation are always looking for additional ways that we can help. Whether it’s through completing additional training, adding services where there are currently none, community involvement, or simply doing our best to be flexible in our processes, we want to support your needs.

Julie Gill is Qualified Mediator, a Certified Specialist in Family Mediation, a Qualified Family Arbitration Screener, a mediator-arbitrator and family arbitrator. In addition, Julie Gill was a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) until 2023, finding that certification less important since the certifying organization pulled out of Canada. The training and experience required to meet that designation however ensures that the financial side of your dispute is understood and handled professionally.

She is also one of a handful of Advanced Certified Elder Mediators in Canada through Family Mediation Canada. This program revolves around understanding the special requirements in mediating care, age related, and elder law issues. She also holds an International Advanced Certified Elder Mediator designation.

Robert Rock is trained in civil mediation, in addition to being an arbitrator.  His experience and training with families continues to grow in both his work with separation/divorce and wills & estate matters.

Both Julie and Robert have trained in Wills and Estates Law & procedures and offer a deep and growing knowledge in those areas.

Julie is currently the Chair of Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario, as well as an active member of the Durham Elder Abuse Network.

Robert is a councillor in the Township of Scugog.

Together we’re focused on being able to help families with any of your dispute prevention and resolution needs from pre-marriage mediation through separation/divorce, family business transitions, and elder mediation. We’re here to help every step of the way by providing the services your family needs all under one roof.

While alternative family dispute resolution might seem like something complicated, it means solving your family disputes outside of the court system. The courts create winners and losers in how they approach solving any dispute, but alternative dispute resolution offers more potential outcomes than simply winning and losing.

This approach includes negotiation, mediation, mediation-arbitration, and arbitration.

Some of the benefits of dispute resolution include:

  • It’s a faster process than waiting for your day in court.
  • It’s much more cost effective.
  • The process is confidential.
  • You have a voice and influence over both the process and the outcome.

There are so many decisions to make and the choice of process is an important one.

While you may not have had a choice in the conflict you now find yourself in, you do have choices going forward. Getting information is the foundation of good decision making.

Often people think that going to a lawyer is the place to start, and for you that might be true. Family lawyers have an obligation to let you know about other processes as well.

From one cost extreme to the other your options are:

  • litigation (going to court)
  • lawyer to lawyer negotiation(your lawyers negotiate with your input but not your presence)
  • collaborative law (you sign an agreement to negotiate and not to go to court and use lawyers and third parties to help)
  • arbitration (you agree to a private decision made by an arbitrator)
  • mediation-arbitration (you mediate the issues you can and then an arbitrator makes decisions on the outstanding issues – private)
  • mediation (you and the other party(ies) make the decisions in a private setting with the mediator as a guide)
  • kitchen table (you come to decisions and settlements on your own)

The right process for you is the one that is the right fit for your family, for your situation, for the level of control you want and the engagement of the other party(ies).

Start with getting as much information as you can, talk to different service providers, and see if you can agree on a process that is appropriate and feels right to you.

We know there is anxiety and fear of the unknown. Starting any of these processes is no different.

While the process and the issues in dispute will be different for each family, some things should always stay the same:

  • You should feel comfortable with the professional you chose; and
  • Share your concerns and ensure they are addressed; and
  • Timelines; including around meetings, should be defined by you; and
  • You should feel safe and respected; and
  • Understand the process to the best of your ability; and
  • Ensure you have the proper supports; and
  • You should always get responses within a reasonable timeframe; and
  • Understand the costs involved.

Ask questions to ensure that you are comfortable with the process you are about to participate in. It may be too late to ask questions after the process is completed.

Why Families First Mediation?

We work with H.E.A.R.T.

We understand families. We know that many of these disputes are not all about the law but fairness, family dynamics, unmet expectations and communication challenges.

Our approach; regardless of the process chosen, acknowledges that as a family you have History, Emotions, a desire for Autonomy in your decisions, and the expectation that you will be Respected and that you are provided with the opportunity to both Talk to share your stories and positions and well as listen to the other sides.

We believe that settlement can occur with any process however resolution is a bigger ask and is often better met in an alternative, creative and more respectful manner.

Together, let’s design a process that works for your family’s needs.

Families First Mediation associates are proud members with designations from Family Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario (FDRIO), Family Mediation Canada (FMC) and ADR Institute of Ontario (ADRIO)

Our latest news & blogs

Information, news and insights from our family to yours.