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Mediation In General

What is Closed, Open and Partially Open Mediation

Closed mediation is a confidential process where only a Memorandum of Understanding is disclosed at the end of the process. This is the most widely accepted type of mediation.

Partially open mediation is a confidential process where a document is prepared at the end stating what was agreed to and at a high level what items where not agreed to and what the ending positions were. This is helpful in some instances where the parties agree that this information would be useful, usually to their lawyers.

Open mediation is usually not confidential and a report is prepared at the end documenting the negotiations.

It is important to agree to the type of mediation at the beginning of the process. Both parties much be in agreement.

Does The Mediator Make Decisions?

No, the mediator does not make decisions for you. The mediator is strictly a neutral third party who helps to facilitate the discussions – although sometimes we have some good ideas!

What Is The Mediation Process?

Generally the mediator will meet with all parties individually and then move on to joint or group sessions.

The individual meetings are confidential.

After joint or group meetings are complete the mediator may document all of the issues that you’ve agreed to into a Memorandum of Understanding.

Sessions run as long asyou want. The number of sessions depends on how many issues there are, the level of complexity and how well you get through the issues.

Is Mediation Confindential?

Yes, mediation is confidential if it’s ‘closed’ mediation. In order for those participating in the mediation to have open and honest communication it’s important that the discussions take place off the record.

The mediator will not; unless otherwise agreed to in writing by all parties, voluntarily disclose the substance of the discussions to anyone. You will be asked to sign an Agreement to Mediate which states that you will not be able to call the mediator to testify in any subsequent legal proceedings. The one exception to the confidentiality rule is if child abuse, elder abuse or potential harm to any of the parties is suspected. By law the mediator is required to disclose this information.

Is Mediation Legally Binding?

If mediation is successful and the parties come to an agreement the mediator can create a document called a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The MoU in and of itself is not a legally binding document. In some family cases the mediator will suggest that the parties consult with a lawyer and receive independent legal advice before signing an MoU.

In other cases the MoU is simply a statement of intention by the parties.

In Divorce cases an MoU can be used to proceed with real estate transactions such as transferring ownership of the martial home and/or obtaining a new mortgage.

It’s up to you to decide how best to use your MoU.

Who Can Attend Mediation?

All parties that would be helpful in resolving the conflict can be invited into mediation.

During separation/divorce the couple attends mediation. At times it is helpful to bring teenage children in to talk to the mediator to ensure that they have a voice during the process.

Sometimes lawyers participate in mediation if all parties agree to it.

In family, caregiver and elder mediation any one who would be helpful, have information or be supportive is welcome.

The goal is the successful resolution of issues, anyone that can aid in the discussions should be considered.

What is Mediation

Mediation is a process that empowers you to work towards the resolution of a problem. It does involve the mediator who acts as a neutral and impartial third party helping with the discussions and guiding the process.

Mediation is voluntary and can be used in a great many ways.

Mediation is a great starting place to work towards agreement. If the mediation isn’t successful you have at least learned something about the other party’s position and you have the legal process to fall back on.

Mediation has a very high success rate for those issues suitable to mediate.

Cost of Mediation

How Much Does Mediation Cost?

There is an hourly fee for mediation sessions and a separate flat fee for documenting the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Costs are shared equally between the parties attending mediation, unless otherwise agreed to.

Fees are payable at the end of each mediation session by credit card, cash or email money transfer.

Mediation is less costly, both financially and emotionally, than litigation. Check with your employer or your Employee Assistance Plan to see if funding is available for mediation.

The cost benefit of drafting a Memo of Understanding differs between the types of Mediation and it is always agreed to in advance of the mediation. In a Separation situation you can have your parenting plan documented and/or your financial disclosure and decisions documented.

Having an MOU saves you time and money when proceeding with lawyers to have a Separation Agreement prepared. There is very little back and forth needed with the other lawyer as you have already prepared a document clearly identifying the decisions that you jointly made.

Timing of Mediation

How Long Will It Take To Get An Appointment?

At Families First Mediation we have appointments 7 days a week, including evenings. We can usually get you in within a week…earlier if urgent.

How Long Does Mediation Take?

The general answer is…it depends.

Different types of mediation as well as different dynamics affect the duration of mediation.

A divorce mediation including a parenting plan can take 8-12 hours.

An eldercare mediation can take 6-10 hours.

With Families First Mediation you only pay for the time in our office. The more organized you are, the lower the total cost of mediation.

Call to discuss your requirements. 905.427.0100

Mediation and Lawyers

How Would I Use A Lawyer In Mediation?

There are many ways to use a lawyer during mediation:

1) Consultation at the beginning of the mediation process
2) Retain a lawyer for use during the mediation process
3) Having a lawyer actively participate in the mediation process (5 way meetings)
4) Independent legal advice at the end of the mediation process

5) Have a lawyer draft a legally binding Separation Agreement

Although many mediations are completed without the assistance of a lawyer, using one can reduce the risk of mistakes and making uninformed decisions. Knowing your rights is always recommended.

Do I Have To Have A Lawyer To Mediate?

Although there is no legal obligation to use a lawyer, not using one can be associated with certain risks. Some of these risks will be mentioned to you by your mediator.

It is important that you are aware of your legal rights during mediation so that you can make informed decisions. The role of the lawyer is lessened in the mediation process however independent legal advice is still valuable.

It is a personal/family decision whether to use a lawyer or not during mediation.

Family Mediation

Can Mediation Help With Family Dynamics?

Yes! Each family has it’s own set of dynamics which can cause conflict or cause conflict not to be resolved.

Mediation allows all members of the family to discuss the issues and look for solutions. It is a process that is practical in nature and is future forward.

Can Mediation Help With Parent - Teen Conflict?


Parenting a teen can be a challenge at the best of times.

Mediation helps you speak the same language and really get across your needs and concerns.

This process is successful as it helps with the inherent power imbalances and results in a written areement that all parties have participated in.

Can Mediation Help With A Blended Family?

Yes! Mediation is helpful when you are thinking of blending a family or if you are already in a blended family and it is not going as smoothly as you would like.

This type of mediation ensures that everyone has a voice and disputes are managed within the family.

It often helps to keep partners together and gives them tools to manage the daily stress of parenting someone else’s child or having someone else parent your children.

It is important that you are aware of your legal rights during mediation so that you can make informed decisions. The role of the lawyer is lessened in the mediation process however independent legal advice is still valuable.

It is a personal/family decision whether to use a lawyer or not during mediation.

Divorce Solutions

What Is Divorce Mediation?

Divorce is stressful and can be a complicated process. Using divorce solutions such as mediation and divorce coaching can ease that stress.

Mediation can help you and your ex partner make decisions regarding child support, spousal support, equally distributing family assets and your parenting plans.

A neutral third party; the mediator, will guide you through the process of creating a parenting plan, financial disclosure and discussing issues such as Child Support, Spousal Support and equalizing your family assets…all in a fair and balanced manner.

You both use 1 professional for most of the work, saving you a great deal of money.

It is always recommended that you consult with a family lawyer so that you understand your rights and are able to make informed decisions during the mediation process.

What is Divorce Coaching?

Divorce is stressful and can be a complicated process. Using divorce solutions such as mediation and divorce coaching can ease that stress.

Coaching can help you by having another set of eyes review your plans or help one person if their ex-partner does not wish to proceed with mediation.

Coaching is also used to help clients who are having difficulty communicating with their lawyers or would like to decrease the costs of their legal representation.

Can We Have A Simple Divorce?

Using mediation to resolve divorce issues is a simple way to get divorced. You and your ex-partner make the decisions and are guided through the process by a neutral mediator. This results in a much less complicated divorce process which will save you time, money and stress.

Caregiver Mediation

What Is Care Giver and Elder Care Mediation?

Caregiver and Elder Care Mediation are used when families feel burdened by the stress and conflicts associated with taking care of a loved one.

Often times siblings disagree about the care of an elder parent or families have a difficult time understanding that their loved one cannot currently function at the same level they once could.

Mediation gives your family the opportunity to find solutions for positive decision making that work for the family as a whole.

Community Mediation

Mediation In Sports?

Mediation in sports, often youth sports, can help the coaches get parents onto their team and ensure that the parents have a voice.

Mediation in adult sports enhances the discipline process and helps to mend relationships.

Mediation In Your Community?

Mediation can help fighting neighbors find solutions and move forward.

It can help non-profits resolve issues and facilitate groups of people.

It can help with your church group and even in local politics.

Providing people with the opportunity to safely communicate with the intention of resolving issues and not placing blame on the past can lead to positive results.

Does Families First Mediation Offer Workshops or Training?

Families First Mediation offers training and workshops in a group setting as well as one-one coaching.

Conflict can enter our lives at different places and different times. Having the tools to manage conflict in a positive manner can lead to decreased stress.

Training is available in a variety of topics and custom training can be arranged. Please see for more information.

Mediation In Schools?

Mediation in schools can help with issues such as bullying, resolving disputes between students and even disputes between teachers or the administration.

Allowing all parties in the conflict to have a voice is the key.