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Family Mediation:  what is the role of the Family Mediator? 

Do you need a lawyer? 

When your relationship ends and you have children or property, you and your ex-spouse need to reach arrangements to work out how you will each participate in taking care of your children, how your children will be supported financially, how you and your ex-spouse will be supported financially, and how the property that you own will be divided. Even when you are very collegial, this can be an overwhelming task. For most people, separation and divorce are a very stressful time and it is hard to avoid some conflict in this process. This is why some separation and divorce disputes end up in court.

A mediator can help you get through this process without resorting to a costly trial and the high conflict that can come with litigation. A mediator is ideally a neutral third-party who is knowledgeable about family law and family dynamics. The mediator is not acting for you, and is not acting for your ex-partner. The mediator sets up the process, listens to you, helps you to define what matters to you most.  The mediator helps you and your former partner come up with workable solutions. Solutions that are workable involve compromises from everyone, but you are the best person to understand what compromises are manageable and what is unacceptable.

A mediator brings an understanding of family law to the process.  You and your spouse usually make arrangements that relate to what your rights are in family law.  Even if you choose to make an agreement that is different from what a court would order, most people are guided by their legal rights when they make compromises at a mediation.  Most mediators agree that it is important for you to understand your legal position to be able to be informed and empowered at a mediation.  The mediator is not your lawyer, and not your ex-spouse's lawyer, even though she understands the law. Most mediators encourage their clients to get legal advice before a mediation, and after a mediation before an agreement is signed.  Many mediators also encourage clients to bring their lawyers to the mediation, if the clients wish to and can afford it.  If you have more questions consulting lawyers before your mediation, or if you would like referrals to lawyers who favour solving family problems through mediation over court processes, please consult Grounded Mediation.

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