Family Mediation in St. John’s FAQ
Mediation is a process to resolve family law disputes outside of court by talking with a mediator about property division, spousal support (or partner support), child support or parenting plan.
Janet Tucker (Jazz), LL.B.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary process where a neutral party (the mediator) helps families talk to each other and negotiate the terms of a Separation Agreement (or Consent Order).
How do I know if mediation is right for our family?
Once an Intake Form is received from both parties, a confidential Mediation Assessment is booked with each party individually to determine whether mediation is right for you.
Do I have to see a lawyer?
Yes. An initial consult with lawyer is recommended at the start of the mediation process. Both parties are required to meet with a lawyer for Independent Legal Advice for signing of Separation Agreement (or Consent Order). Lawyers may be required to attend mediation sessions in order to balance any power imbalances.
What is alternative to mediation?
The alternative to mediation is going through the court process on own or with a lawyer. When children are involved, the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador requires parents to attend mediation at Family Justice Services (FJS) to try to resolve the issues of parenting and child support. However, FJS does not mediate the issues of property division or spousal support (or partner support).
How much will mediation cost?
There is a flat fee for Mediation Assessment and there is a flat fee for drafting Progress Notes and Separation Agreement (or Consent Order). Mediation sessions are based on time and hourly rate. The total cost depends on how many mediation sessions are required to reach an agreement.
Can I talk to the mediator in private during mediation sessions?
Yes. Caucus meetings are when the mediator meets with each party individually during mediation sessions.
What are steps in mediation?
Steps in mediation:
1) Both parties must fill out Intake Form and submit to Jazz Mediation.
2) Once Intake Form is received from both parties, a confidential Mediation Assessment is booked with each party individually.
3) If both parties agree to mediation and the mediator determines mediation is appropriate then mediation sessions are booked.
- May be joint or individual sessions (depends upon the process designed by the mediator)
- Sometimes counselling is required prior to the mediation process continuing.
If the parties do not reach an agreement then mediation ends.
If the parties reach an agreement then:
4) The mediator drafts Separation Agreement (or Consent Order).
5) Both parties meet with a lawyer for Independent Legal Advice for signing of Separation Agreement (or Consent Order).
What is the role of the mediator?
The mediator is the process designer. The mediator determines whether the case is appropriate for mediation at this time at Mediation Assessment. If both parties agree to participate in mediation and the mediator finds mediation is appropriate, then mediation sessions are booked.
What is the purpose of Mediation Assessment?
The purpose of Mediation Assessment is twofold:
1) To determine whether the case is appropriate for mediation and can be done safely at this time. Sometimes counselling is required prior to proceeding with the mediation process.
2) To learn what the mediator needs to know to assist each party through the mediation process.
How fast is mediation?
Mediation can only proceed at the speed of the slowest party. This is critical when one party emotionally left the relationship long before advising the other party who has just found out that their partner wants a separation. Time may be needed before the mediation process can proceed. Also, counselling may be required prior to the mediation process continuing.
Do I have to pay money into trust for mediation?
No. Each party pays a flat fee for Mediation Assessment. Each party pays for one-half of mediation session at the end of each session (based on time and hourly rate) and each party pays for one-half of flat fees for drafting of Progress Notes or Separation Agreement (or Consent Order).
What if we don’t reach an agreement, can the mediator decide for us?
No, that is not the role of the mediator. The parties must agree or there is no Separation Agreement (or Consent Order).
How can I keep track of progress made during mediation sessions?
The mediator provides Progress Notes to the parties after each mediation session. The parties can provide these notes to their lawyer if they have one.
What are benefits of mediation?
Benefits of mediation:
Much less expensive than going through court process with a lawyer
Less stress than going through court process (either on own or with a lawyer)
Keeps the focus on the best interests of the children
Helps families deal with and move through conflict they are experiencing to arrive at a new place
Resolves disputes while preserving relationships
Agreements reached in mediation are more likely to be followed through on than orders imposed by a judge
Mediation is a customized process and takes into account the unique emotional circumstances in each case
Parties have more power and control over the outcome, thereby making it easier to move on