Avoiding court through family mediation
Canada’s Family Law Act that became effective in March 2013 may provide a greater ability for family disputes to remain out of the courtroom. The law provides for out-of-court action through mediation to resolve family disputes associated with divorce proceedings. Although a decision to go to mediation might be mutual, in some venues, one party can force mediation by serving notice on another.
As mediation is explored, projects are underway to promote this method of resolving differences. For example, the Legal Services Society has piloted a mediation referral project. This may benefit low-income individuals who might not be eligible for legal aid, allowing them to obtain services related to mediation. The provision of six hours of mediation assistance may be subsidized with additional services at low costs if the six-hour period is insufficient to resolve all disputes. Costs for additional services are to be computed based on a party’s assets and income.
Leaders indicate their appreciation of this method because it involves families in formulating solutions and resolving their own disputes. Additionally, the costs are much lower than those associated with going to trial. Mediation is estimated to cost less than $2,000 total, shared among all parties, whereas a family case can cost nearly $15,000 per party. Leaders express hope that the process will spread to outlying communities, but there are obstacles in finding resources and qualified professionals to provide these services. Statistics for 2013 note that all issues were resolved in approximately 80 percent of cases.
An individual dealing with a divorce may find that mediation is an affordable option for addressing child custody, spousal support and property division. Legal assistance might be helpful during such proceedings to ensure that implications of various decisions are thoroughly understood before a final agreement is made.
Source: Vancouver Sun, “Ian Mulgrew: Family mediation keeps divorce out of the courtroom “, Ian Mulgrew, January 01, 2015
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