February 27, 2023


Dr. Barbara Landau

The divorce process in Ontario

Some couples wait until Christmas is over hoping to make it easier on the children, but even so, experiencing a separation or divorce will likely be one of the most traumatic chapters of yours and their lives.

Barbara Landau has spent decades trying to make it easier to navigate the legal process through separation and divorce. She was one of Canada’s early professional trainers of mediators, working as a psychologist in the Family Court system in the ‘70s.

“First, I was the chief psychologist at the Family Court clinic, so I had a wonderful advantage for child protection separating families and juvenile delinquency. But what I saw was the parents coming into court saying humiliating and horrible things about each other in affidavits. That it was a confrontational system, kind of a winner take all with relatives and friends lined up. I thought it was a terrible system because when you have children your marriage and relationships may end, but from a child’s vantage point, parents are forever. The system didn’t consider that when people walk out of that courthouse they must get along forever, and we need to tell people to think about how they’re handling this. I never heard the word mediation. So, what I did was at that point, I decided that I was going to change the way that people handle their issues.”

Barbara was recently invested into the Order of Canada for her work in bringing mediation into Canada’s family courts. She has recently created a Non-For-Profit organization, Separation Pathways, aimed at easing the process for parents going through a separation or divorce.

“What I found was that in my first meeting with people, when I went over ‘how did you get to this place’ and then reflected on what options they might’ve had along the way, what their goals were for the future, and what they wanted for their children, people took a deep breath and calmed down. And what I hear all the time is that people say if we only had this conversation a couple of years earlier, we wouldn’t be separating.“

Mediation isn’t for everyone if there are issues of domestic violence and people are having safety concerns. They may be more appropriate for a court-based process. But many people are not in that category. They do feel safe, but they are kind of caught in the moment of hurt feelings, feeling rejected, feeling humiliated, feeling anxious about their future, how are they going to manage financially, whether can they afford two homes whatever. In their anxiety, they think a short-term kind of way. They may be fueled with anger initially or despair. Mediation is an opportunity to kind of reflect and kind of take a deep breath.

Did people get back together after mediation?

Find out, in this interview with Barbara Landau on CBC Morning Radio – Jan 16, 2023