Family dynamics in Canada have experienced significant changes over time. There has been a surge in common-law unions, childless partnerships, and individuals going through divorce or separation multiple times.
There were 42,933 divorces in Canada in 2020, the lowest in almost five decades. The drop in divorce can be attributed to couples who opt to live as common-law partners. In addition, spouses are choosing to co-parent their children instead of divorcing.
Almost one-third of divorces from the country are from joint applications by both spouses. This improvement follows the Divorce Act amendment in 1986, which made it possible for couples to file for divorce jointly.
Separating couples have a variety of legal remedies they can pursue to process their divorce. They can choose between negotiation, collaborative law, mediation, and, in some provinces, arbitration.
Regardless of which option separating couples choose, seeking the advice of a family law lawyer is advisable. Law firms generally offer initial consultations to potential clients who wish to have legal representation in their divorce proceedings.
In particular, Nussbaum Family Law can handle family disputes and legal matters. We’re an experienced team of family lawyers specializing in separation agreements. We can help guide you throughout the divorce process.
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We provide exceptional legal services tailored to the unique needs of families and approach each client’s situation with personalized attention. Toronto has recognized our stellar reputation for commitment to client advocacy. The Best Toronto named Nussbaum Family Law as one of the top 10 firms with family lawyers in the city. Read the full article here.
Divorce Mediation vs. Litigation
When it comes to dispute resolution, couples are often torn between divorce litigation and mediation. Both options bring closure to the legal aspects of divorce. However, they differ significantly in approach and outcomes.
Divorce mediation is one type of alternative dispute resolution. It’s a voluntary settlement procedure where separating or divorcing couples work with a neutral third-party mediator.
During family mediation proceedings, the mediator facilitates open communication, encourages spouses to cooperate, and provides independent legal advice, particularly regarding separation agreements. They may also discuss matters concerning child custody, spousal support, parenting plans, and division of property, among others.
Meanwhile, litigated divorce usually suits couples who cannot reach an amicable divorce settlement on their own. In this process, each spouse hires a family lawyer, and the divorce proceedings take place in a courtroom. Sometimes, the litigation process can be confrontational and may lead to heightened conflict between the spouses.
Understanding Family Law and Divorce in Canada
In Canada, the federal law, or the Divorce Act in particular, establishes the grounds for divorce. Unlike some jurisdictions that require fault-based grounds, Canada operates under a “no-fault” principle.
It means that spouses can seek a divorce without proving that one party is responsible for the separation. Instead, the grounds for divorce are based on the breakdown of the marriage. Couples can prove this breakdown in one of three ways:
- The couple has maintained separate residences for at least a year.
- One party has been mentally or physically cruel to the other.
- One party has committed adulterous acts.
Family mediation focuses on facilitating the negotiation and resolution of a separation agreement rather than determining the grounds for divorce. Unlike litigation, which involves going to family court and complying with a judge’s decision, mediation services encourage couples to make their own decisions.
Divorce mediation services usually consist of the following steps:
- Initiation: The couple decides to undergo mediation and selects an accredited mediator.
- Introductory sessions: The mediator holds initial mediation sessions to explain the process, establish rules, and clarify each party’s roles and expectations.
- Information gathering: The couple gathers all relevant documentation related to their assets, finances, debts, etc.
- Issue identification: The mediator guides the couple to identify and prioritize family law issues they want to address.
- Negotiation: The mediator facilitates constructive communication and guides the couple to explore options and find mutually acceptable solutions.
- Agreement drafting: The mediator helps the spouses draft a separation agreement.
In addition, divorce mediation has two primary types, open and closed. Most of the time, couples do not want their negotiations to be used against them in arbitration or court proceedings.
Closed mediation enables them to keep mediation sessions confidential. Whatever occurred in their sessions cannot be used in court if negotiations fail. In addition, it also bars any of the parties from summoning the mediator to court and talking about what happened.
Meanwhile, open mediation does not outline what can or cannot be brought to court about the mediation process. Signing a contract detailing what can or cannot be disclosed about the legal process is crucial for couples who opt for open mediation.
Benefits of Divorce Mediation Services
It’s essential to recognize that each legal action, whether divorce mediation or litigation, has its own advantages. Couples must choose a legal remedy based on the unique characteristics of their case and the specific needs of the individuals involved.
Divorce mediation is relatively less expensive than litigation. Litigation entails legal and court fees that may become costly depending on our case’s conflict level and complexity.
For instance, in mediation, couples work with a neutral third-party mediator rather than hiring separate lawyers. This arrangement eliminates the need for each spouse to bear the total cost of individual legal representation throughout the entire divorce process.
In addition, mediation takes place outside of the courtroom, eliminating court filing fees or expenses associated with multiple court appearances. However, there may be instances where the complexity of a case requires additional expert involvement or legal advice. In these cases, legal consultations or expert participation may be necessary.
One of the key distinguishing factors of divorce mediation is its cooperative nature. It offers a unique platform that promotes better communication and understanding between divorcing spouses.
For example, it creates a safe and neutral space for couples to communicate honestly and openly. Unlike litigation, where each party presents their arguments in a confrontational manner, mediation encourages collaborative decision-making.
Mediation also seeks to shift the mindset from adversaries to collaborators. The process emphasizes the shared goal of reaching mutually acceptable divorce settlements. This approach allows couples to lay the foundation for healthier post-divorce relationships.
Mediation typically involves a series of sessions that span over a few weeks. However, the duration can differ based on the case’s complexity and the issues.
Mediation consists of multiple sessions for thorough discussions and exploration of various marital issues. While some cases may be resolved in as little as two or three sessions, others may require more time for comprehensive dialogue and negotiation.
The level of cooperation and willingness of both spouses to work together can also significantly affect the speed of resolution. The process becomes more efficient when both parties approach mediation with a genuine desire to find common ground and an open mind.
In addition, the couple’s readiness to gather necessary information and documentation can speed up the mediation process. Before mediation, both spouses must compile relevant financial records, asset valuations, and other pertinent documentation.
In divorce mediation, the decision-making power rests with the couple rather than a court judge. Alternative dispute resolution empowers couples to actively participate in shaping the outcomes of their divorce.
For instance, the mediator acts as a neutral facilitator, assisting the couple in identifying their interests, needs, and priorities. By actively engaging in the negotiation process, the couple can make informed decisions that align with their unique circumstances and goals.
This approach also allows for the promotion of personalized solutions tailored to the specific preferences and needs of the couple. Unlike a court judgment that may impose a standardized outcome, mediation offers the flexibility to craft agreements that address the couple’s unique situation.
How Divorce Mediation Works in Toronto
The divorce mediation process in Toronto follows a structured process aimed at resolving family disputes in a personalized and cooperative manner. Its core principles remain consistent across the board, but the specific process can vary depending on the unique circumstances of each case. Here’s an overview of how divorce mediation works in Toronto.
1. Decide if dispute resolution is suitable for the case
Divorce mediation may not be appropriate or suitable for cases involving family violence or power imbalances. It raises serious safety concerns for all parties involved. Mediation requires a safe and non-threatening environment for effective communication and negotiation.
Suppose there is a history of domestic abuse or ongoing violence. It may be unsafe for the couple to communicate directly in mediation sessions. Prioritizing the safety and well-being of all individuals involved is crucial for alternative dispute resolution.
In addition, power imbalance can significantly impact the fairness and effectiveness of the mediation process. Suppose one spouse has a significant advantage in terms of financial resources, knowledge, or assertiveness. It can undermine the ability of the other spouse to negotiate on an equal footing.
2. Find a mediator
When selecting a mediator for divorce proceedings, considering credentials and characteristics is crucial to ensure the best possible outcomes. Key aspects to evaluate when choosing a mediator include their training and certification, experience, impartiality and neutrality, and knowledge of family law.
A reputable mediator should have received formal training in mediation techniques and processes. Look for mediators who have completed recognized mediation training programs and hold certifications. In addition, consider mediators who are members of professional organizations, such as the Ontario Association for Family Mediation.
While mediators do not provide legal advice, having a comprehensive understanding of family law is essential. Look for mediators knowledgeable about the legal aspects of divorce, including property division, child custody, and support.
Most importantly, your mediator should adhere to professional standards and ethical guidelines. Look for mediators who demonstrate professionalism, maintain confidentiality, and prioritize the integrity of the mediation process.
3. Initial consultation
During this meeting, the mediator’s primary objective is to assess whether their family mediation services are appropriate for the client’s situation. They will explain the mediation process, outlining the key principles, stages, and expectations.
Clients must sign standard paperwork to initiate the resolution process if they decide to move forward with family mediation.
This document may include an agreement to mediate, which outlines the responsibilities of the clients and the mediator. It also has a confidentiality agreement to ensure that discussions and information shared during the mediation remain private and confidential.
During the consultation, the couple will decide between open or closed mediation. The clients must carefully consider their comfort level and the specific dynamics of their case when choosing between these options.
4. Mediation sessions
Mediation meetings are structured sessions where parties collaboratively work towards resolving their marital disputes. They can be accompanied by their respective lawyers or represent themselves during these sessions.
Mediation can take place in person, over the telephone, or through video conference platforms, depending on the preferences and circumstances of the participants. A mediator facilitates the meeting, ensuring a respectful and productive environment.
Each session typically begins with the mediator setting an agenda to outline the concerns to be discussed. The couple, with the assistance of their lawyers, identifies the specific issues they wish to address. They can express their concerns, share information, and propose potential solutions.
Throughout the sessions, the mediator encourages the couple to generate and evaluate various options for resolution. They help the parties consider the potential consequences and implications of different choices.
5. Drafting the agreement
The final divorce agreement formalizes the resolutions and serves as a blueprint for the future. The mediator plays a vital role in this process, ensuring that the agreement accurately reflects the couple’s decisions and effectively addresses their concerns.
For example, throughout the mediation sessions, the mediator takes notes and documents the agreements reached by the couple. This documentation ensures that the final deal is clear, comprehensive, and accurately reflects the couple’s intentions.
A divorce mediator plays a vital role in finalizing the divorce agreement. However, having a divorce lawyer review the contract before signing them is advisable. Lawyers provide legal expertise and ensure the agreement protects their client’s rights and interests.
Contact Nussbaum Family Law for Divorce Mediation Toronto Today
Seeking legal representation is of utmost importance to protect your rights when going through the complexities of divorce. Mediation lawyers can guarantee the protection of your rights and ensure a fair outcome.
At Nussbaum Family Law, we understand the significance of having a skilled and reliable family law lawyer by your side. We are a team of dedicated lawyers who understand the legal framework surrounding divorce, child custody, spousal support, and property division.
We can review your case to assess your situation and provide an initial evaluation of your legal options. We understand the troubles you may be facing, and we are dedicated to helping you attain the best possible outcome.
Reach out today to avail of a consultation with Nussbaum Family Law.
FAQs on Divorce Mediation in Toronto
Is mediation suitable for same-sex divorces?
Yes. Divorce mediation can be an appropriate method to discuss and resolve marital concerns. It includes issues such as dividing property, allocating debt responsibility, creating a parenting plan for minors, and spousal support.
What happens if we cannot agree through mediation?
Mediation is a non-binding agreement. If a couple cannot agree through mediation, they proceed with arbitration or litigation. In any case, seeking legal representation from a divorce lawyer is crucial to know which approach is best for our circumstances.
How much does divorce mediation cost in Toronto?
Mediation expenses depend on various factors, such as the mediator’s experience and reputation, the case’s complexity, and the duration of the process. In general, mediation services are less expensive than divorce litigation.