FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We already agree. Do we need mediation?
Mediation is a great process for those that agree already. I will work with you both to flesh out your agreement and help you work out the details of your plan together. Mediation allows you to build on your agreement as opposed to divide you in an adversarial process.
Do we actually need a separation agremeent?
Yes, if you have children and/or property together, then you need a separation agreement. First, it's a written record of the agreements you make. It ensures that you both understand it in the same way and that all of the details are ironed out. This decreases future disagreements, but also serves as a record of the agreement in case a dispute arises later on.
Why do we have to meet with you separately?
I have to meet with you each in pre-mediation meetings to assess the situation and figure out how to best structure the mediation session. I need to give each of you the opportunity to speak with me candidly about your perspective and this is really best done in a one-on-one session.
I do not want to sit in the same room as my former spouse. Can we mediate?
Yes, being in the same room is not necessary in order to have a successful mediation. My highest priority is that everyone is emotionally supported and feels relatively calm. If you are flooded with emotion or anxiety, you're not thinking ... and if you're not thinking, you're not able to make decisions. We are able to structure the mediation in a number of different ways.
If we can't agree, will you just tell us what to do?
Well, no, not really. As a family law mediator I am able to guide you by discussing the law, tell you what other families do in similar situations, and how the law may be applied in your situation. This is meant to guide you both towards a solution.
We've tried to have all of these discussions before and we get nowhere. Will mediation even work?
Mediation offers a structure to the conversation that you're not likely using in your living room. I have a very structured process to get you through the important topics and make the necessary decisions.
How long does it take to get the agreement?
It generally takes about 10 days to draft the agreement after the mediation is complete. Once all the invoices are cleared, I send out the agreement, all the documents you provided, and all of the calculations and spreadsheets we use in mediation. This way you have a full package of information for your lawyer to give you advice AND it's the same package your spouse takes to their lawyer, so you both get legal advice based on the same information.
I thought you were a lawyer. Why do we need legal advice?
I am a lawyer. And, through the mediation process I am able to give you guiding legal information. I'll tell you what the legislation says, the policy behind the law, what other families do, and how the law might apply in your circumstances. But, I can't give you advice about what to do. That's because as a mediator, I must remain neutral and give you both the same information to help make decisions.
Is the agreement you draft legally binding?
Yes, once the mediation is done, I draft a legal separation agreement for you. And once that agreement is signed, it is legally binding. I use neutral legal language and clauses that are commonly used in British Columbia, so that your lawyer will be familiar with the structure and wording.
The Process Overall
How long does the process take?
I have designed the process to take about 3 to 6 weeks from the time you meet me in a pre-mediation meeting to the time you have a separation agreement in hand. But, this is an estimate. 80 percent of people will fall into this range. 10 percent will be faster - they have a simple situation and a low level of conflict. 10 percent of people will take longer - they have a complex situation and/or high conflict and so they require additional sessions.
How much will mediation cost?
It generally costs between $3,500 and $4,500 for the pre-mediation meetings, the mediation and drafting the separation agreement. Each party is responsible to pay for half of the fees, unless you agree to another arrangement. For more details, the pricing estimates are outlined in the Pricing section here.
How does mediation compare in price to just hiring lawyers?
In my experience its much less expensive to use a mediation process because you're co-creating the plan instead of fighting about it. That in itself is the major difference. When you hire laywers you are paying them to get the best outcome for each of you. With that approach, it becomes a tug of war; and that takes a long time and costs a lot of money.
In my experience, at my old firm, I'd ask for a retainer of $5,000 to get the file opened. Nothing would happen for less than that and most often we'd be seeking at least one other retainer before the file was resolved. Mediation is half the cost, at least. I think the key really is that actually coming together and dedicating the time to work out a plan that works for everyone means it's done in a day. Less time = lower cost.