Service Definitions

An impartial professional assists both partners to negotiate their separation issues in a safe and structured process with the goal of a mutually agreed outcome that considers the needs of all family members. Legal advice is obtained outside the mediation process.

The goal is to help you reach a mutually acceptable agreement. You and your partner both must agree to this process, and it is confidential. Mediation may help improve communication and reduce conflict between you and your partner.

Mediators do not take sides or make decisions for you. They can talk to you about legal information, but they do not provide you or your partner with legal advice. Prior to beginning a Mediation process, and before any agreement is finalized, both parties are advised to speak to a family lawyer for legal advice.

Mediation is often a good choice for couples who have some ability to cooperate, communicate and a desire to reach a fair outcome. The process can be customized to create a safe environment if there is ongoing conflict or discomfort meeting face to face. Mediation is almost always less expensive than litigation and takes less time to reach a resolution. If no agreement is reached in mediation, either party can take the unresolved issues to court if needed.

You may have to go to Court if the issues arising from your separation can’t be resolved by other means. To start a Court case, and throughout the multi-step process, you must follow the Family Law Rules of procedure and file prescribed documents.

The Court process is adversarial and has the potential to escalate conflict and damage communication and relationships between family members. It is lengthy and expensive and should be a last resort.  Most cases that proceed to family court settle before a trial and without a judge making a final decision.

For these reasons, consider reaching an agreement on as many issues as possible before going to Court. However, the Court process may be necessary to protect your legal rights and enforce legal obligations especially if you have safety concerns, or if you believe that your partner will not comply with your agreement.

Without a lawyer representing you, the court process can be complicated.  If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may qualify for legal aid (legalaid.on.ca). Ontario Family Law Court Forms are available online at: ontariocourtforms.on.ca/en/family-law-rules-forms

Separation is an incredibly stressful time in everyone’s life. The emotional impact of separation can be eased for both adults and children through professional counseling, either individually or in groups. There are also counseling services to assist families with mental health, addiction, gender identity, and domestic violence issues as well as with the special needs of children. Addressing these issues can make this difficult transition easier, improve the quality of your agreement and help you to move forward in a constructive way.

Creating A Parenting Plan – How you can Prepare!

A Parenting Plan is an important requirement for couples with school-age children.

It reduces conflict, offers predictability, and you can design a plan that works well for your children and both parents.

Creating a Parenting Plan takes some effort, but your preparation will save considerable time, money, and personal stress.

These are the important items to consider. Our website provides easy access to the Family Law Portal, a FREE online resource that can help you prepare.

Significant Decisions: How will you and your partner make major decisions for your children, including, education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities?

Healthcare: How will the children’s healthcare needs be met? Who will make and take the children to health care appointments? Who will take time off work if a child is ill? Will you agree to share the children’s health information with the other partner?

If you have a healthcare plan, will you keep it to cover the children?

Parenting Schedule: How will your children spend time with each partner in a regular weekly schedule?  What works well for both parents’ work schedules and for the children?

How will the children spend summer, winter, and other school breaks? Major civic and faith-based holidays?

Transportation: How will the children get to and from their school and extracurricular activities?

How will they get to and from other activities, such as birthday parties and other visits?

Communication: What is the best and most respectful way to communicate about your children’s needs, for example, if a child becomes ill or you want to share educational information or you want to request an adjustment to the schedule for a special event? It is best to think about communicating when the child is not present.

Dispute Resolution: How will you resolve differences of opinion about significant issues? Or deal with changes in circumstances? For example, if a parent moves, what notice would be reasonable if the move meant a change in the regular parenting schedule?

Shopping: Who will purchase day-to-day children’s items, such as clothing, supplies, etcetera? How will expensive items be shared, such as sporting or musical equipment? Do these items belong to the child, and can they accompany the child in both homes?

Travel: How will you notify the other parent about travel out of the province or country? Out-of-country travel requires an exchange of special documents to confirm consent. Who will keep documents such as passports and health cards?

New Partners: Often, a very sensitive issue: How and when will new Partners be introduced to the children, taking into consideration their age and readiness?

Children are very loyal to their parents and need some time to adjust to the many changes in their lives. Allowing them time to settle before introducing new partners is usually helpful in beginning a successful relationship.

A Financial Expert specializing in family law issues may be of assistance if you have assets that need to be valued, complicated income, or property issues.  You may also benefit from a Financial Expert if one partner has less financial knowledge than the other about the family’s finances.

Financial experts can be retained by either of you alone, or they can be retained jointly to work with both of you.  They can work within any of the settlement or adjudicative processes.