Following is our library of Frequently Asked Questions. If you have any questions or would like to further discuss any matters related to the FAQs, please connect with us directly.
- Customized Solution
The ability to be creative and work together to come up with a mutually agreeable solution is one of the most significant advantages of mediation. Parties are able to think outside the box and are not confined to solutions which would otherwise be imposed by a judge.
In a mediation, the decision making rests with the parties. The parties retain the final say over the terms of their agreement, so there is no agreement without each party saying yes to its terms.
A solution achieved through mediation is efficient. Generally, a mediated settlement is reached within seven settlement meetings, or between three weeks and three months, as opposed to the multi-year process involved with traditional litigation takes to complete. Achieving a solution in a timely manner reduces conflict, stress, anxiety and cost.
- Mediation is far less time consuming than litigation. Traditional court channels typically take months and even years to navigate, whereas mediation is generally completed within seven sessions. When legal fees are based on the amount of time spent on a file, it is not surprising that litigation becomes so costly.
- Mediation allows parties the opportunity to employ one professional who is dedicated to helping the parties reach a harmonious resolution instead of each party paying for their own professionals.
- Lawyers charge for the back and forth correspondence between them, for financial disclosure to be exchanged, numerous pleadings to be prepared and filed, and court appearances where they often spend time waiting in court before a matter is heard, for which they bill that time. Side-stepping traditional litigation by opting for mediation will reduce your cost because lawyers are largely removed from the equation.
- Parties are much more likely to abide by the terms of a resolution they have helped to create than they are to a resolution imposed on them by a judge. The result is that expenses are further reduced because lawyers do not typically need to be employed to enforce the terms of mediated solutions, despite mediated agreements being fully enforceable by the court.
- Personal Attention
Mediation sessions allow parties to speak and be heard. Parties work with the mediator to generate and evaluate resolution options, seeking to achieve an outcome that meets both parties’ needs and goals.
Mediation sessions are private, as are the communications, documentation and notes made in the course of mediation. Litigation involves court appearances that are open to the public to attend and documentation and evidence also are a matter of public record, accessible by anyone.
Mediators can agree to go as quickly or as slowly as both parties wish, depending on your needs. Mediators will work around your work and personal schedules. Litigation and court appearances are not nearly as flexible.
- Promotes Amicability
Mediation involves parties gaining an increased understanding of each other, learning and practicing skills to improve communication and diminish conflict. This promotes the preservation of the relationship, which can be invaluable to parties who will be co-parenting for years to come. In stark contrast, litigation is, by its very nature, adversarial. Parties often resort to giving evidence outlining the opposing parties negative characteristics and damaging history in order to win. The general by-product of traditional litigation is to create an environment which divides and polarizes parties and fosters continued conflict.
- Protects Children from Conflict
One of the greatest indicators of how well children will be able to cope with separation is the extent to which they are exposed to conflict between their parents. The increased animosity resulting from traditional litigation is difficult to hide from children and therefore increases the risk of long-term harm to the children. In contrast, by promoting effective communication, cooperation and understanding through mediation, parties are better able to reduce the conflict between them and learn to effectively co-parent into the future for the benefit of their children.
- Benefit from our Experience
With Jones Divorce Mediation Inc., you can be confident that you are in good hands. The professional with whom you will be working has a law degree, additional training in conflict resolution, mediation and/or arbitration and many years of experience practicing law exclusively in the areas of family and divorce law. As a result, clients can feel confident in the information being provided, allowing them to make informed, sound decisions to achieve the best solution for themselves and their family.
In mediation, parties use the same professional through the entire process. As a result, following the initial sessions, the mediator is personally familiar with the parties, their family circumstances, the details of their property, personal dynamics, specific challenges, etc.. During traditional litigation, parties generally attend court multiple times and before a variety of Justices, each of whom has varying perspectives and approaches. Many interim applications involve Justices making decisions based on an incomplete information regarding the family circumstances due to the limited time litigants are permitted to present their case. The result is that court decisions sometimes lack consistency.
Mediated solutions result in a high level of compliance by the parties because the resolution was arrived at jointly and is mutually agreeable. Quite simply, parties are more likely to abide by a harmonious agreement than a decision that is imposed on them in a litigation setting. Similarly, parties are less likely to seek to change a settlement that they personally developed. Additionally, in the event disputes arise in the future, parties are more likely to resolve matters by agreement and can return to their mediator for future assistance, if required.
Parties are supported and encouraged to think outside the box to find a unique and customized solution which addresses their interests, meets their needs and accomplishes their goals. Through the support and assistance of the mediator, parties can gain valuable communication skills, an appreciation of the other party’s point of view and a better understanding of their personal and family dynamics. These skills and insights assist parties to maintain and improve their relationship into the future.
- Mutual agreement
A mediated resolution is not achieved until both parties are able to say yes to a resolution developed through the mediation process. Neither party, nor the mediator, can impose a decision on either party. The result is a mutually agreed solution which has the added benefit of preserving a working relationship between the parties.
There are numerous steps that must be taken prior to scheduling a court trial and, therefore, Court of Queen’s Bench trials are typically scheduled well over a year following legal counsel being retained. Arbitration is a more streamlined process that can be scheduled quickly, thereby allowing parties to resolve their dispute in a timely manner, often within a matter of days or weeks.
Since an arbitration provides a more streamlined process than a court trial and since lawyers are paid by the hour, arbitration can be far less expensive than a litigated resolution. Also, arbitration is far more conducive to parties acting on their own behalf without lawyers, which can make it exceedingly less expensive than a court trial.
At Jones Divorce Mediation Inc., the arbitrator who decides your matter is an experienced legal professional with additional specialized training in arbitration. Having practiced law exclusively in family and divorce law for many years, our professionals have an in depth knowledge and understanding of the intricacies and nuances of the legal principles that face separating and divorcing parties. Thoroughly considered, well analyzed, and comprehensive arbitration decisions will allow parties to conclude their dispute and move on with their lives with confidence that their matter was given proper legal consideration. In contrast, arbitrators who are not lawyers and have not practiced law in the area have a more superficial comprehension of the issues which can result in inaccurate applications of the law and incorrect arbitration awards. Further, Justices have a wide range of backgrounds and parties may or may not appear before a Justice who has any experience practicing family and divorce law prior to joining the judiciary.
In arbitration, parties use the same professional through the entire process. As a result, the arbitrator becomes familiar with the parties, their family circumstances, the details of their property, personal dynamics, specific challenges, etc.. During traditional litigation, parties generally attend court multiple times and before a variety of Justices, each of whom have varying perspectives and approaches. Many interim applications involve Justices making decisions based on an incomplete knowledge and understanding of the family circumstances due to the limited time litigants are permitted to present their case. The result is that court decisions may lack consistency. While an arbitration may also involve interim applications, parties always attend with the same professional arbitrator to afford the parties the consistency of a decision-maker with an intimate understanding of their case and particular circumstances.
The arbitration procedure is far less complicated than litigation, which can be extremely challenging for self-represented litigants to navigate. Individuals can easily attend arbitration on their own, but are also free to have legal counsel represent them should they prefer.
Arbitration sessions are private, as are the communications, documentation and notes made in the course of arbitration. Litigation involves public court appearances, documentation and evidence all of which is a matter of public record, accessible by anyone.
Arbitrators will work with the parties to accommodate work and vacation schedules. Although timelines and decisions can be imposed, they are not as rigid as those imposed by the Alberta Rules of Court. Litigation, court appearances and the Rules of Court are not flexible.
- Better Protects Children from Conflict
Traditional litigation is extremely time consuming and trials typically occur well over a year following legal counsel being retained. The prolonged conflict and animosity between parents negatively impacts their children. By providing an efficient resolution to a dispute, children are better protected than they are in a lengthy, ongoing litigated battle.
The Mediation/Arbitration process is designed to offer clients the advantages of mediation (such as maintaining control over the result and being creative with resolutions) while addressing the disadvantages of both mediation (such as there being no guarantee of a resolution) and litigation (such as massive delay and extensive legal fees). In essence, it is the best of both worlds and has numerous advantages as follows:
- Efficiency: Mediation/Arbitration can be very cost effective, in comparison to lengthy litigation proceedings. Layers are paid by the amount of time spent on a file and, therefore, lengthy litigation tends to be exceedingly expensive despite the fact that parties share the cost of the independent third-party in Mediation/Arbitration whereas a court Justice’s salary is paid by the government.
- Privacy: The mediation process is confidential and held in private thereby avoiding exposure of the conflict, and any related information through the formalized filings that are required in the public court system.
- Informality: The setting for mediation is relaxed and informal in comparison to litigation proceedings. As a result, it is less intimidating.
- Guaranteed Result: You and your ex first have the opportunity to reach an agreement in the mediation phase that in the event you are unable to do so the independent third- party would render a binding decision. As such, there is a guarantee that you will end your dispute in a relatively timely manner, unlike a pure mediation process that may be concluded with outstanding issues in the event the parties cannot agree.
- Selecting Your Decision-Maker: In a Mediation/Arbitration process the parties select the Mediator/Arbitrator. When you go to court to get whatever justice happened to be assigned to your courtroom, which means that your matter may be heard by a Justice that has never practiced any family law when he or she was a lawyer. That Justice’s background could be in criminal law, employment law, corporate or tax law, etc. When you go to Mediation/Arbitration you agree on who the decision-maker will be.
- Consistency: Litigation involves numerous court appearances, all of which are before different Justices. Mediation/Arbitration involves only one independent third party who will hear your entire matter. As a result, there is consistency in decisions, familiarity with the issues, background and parties, which also helps reduce costs by layers not having to reiterate the same information over and over.
In the event your situation involves Child Family Services being actively involved, a history, a history of severe abuse or a child being abducted from this jurisdiction then we cannot be of assistance and you should retain a divorce lawyer. In situations of abuse or mental illness we can help but it would be best if you attend with a divorce lawyer.
Aside from that, you never need a divorce lawyer to go through our resolution processes. In fact, most of our clients attend without a divorce lawyer. Since mediation only involves a settlement being reached in the event both parties agree and since one of the mediatorâ€™s jobs is ensuring that both parties get their stories out and are heard, most people feel secure in attending mediation on their own.
Because the mediators at Jones Divorce Mediation Inc. are all knowledgeable and experienced divorce lawyers themselves, they are able to provide accurate and current legal information for you. However, if you prefer to have your divorce lawyer with you during all or part of a mediation that is perfectly acceptable and divorce lawyers are welcome to attend mediation with their clients.
It is also possible to have your divorce lawyer attend mediation initially but not throughout the entire process or for a divorce lawyer to be brought into the process mid-way through.
Yes. When parties attend on their own they are only responsible for covering the cost of the process itself. However, when parties attend with their divorce lawyers they cover the cost of the process but also have to pay their lawyerâ€™s hourly rate for preparing for and attending the resolution process selected.
A divorce lawyer represents a client in an arbitration the same way they would represent a client in a court trial. The lawyer elicits evidence from any witnesses that are called in support of a client’s case. The lawyer then cross-examines any witnesses that are called in support of the other party’s case; presents case law; outlines the legal test to be applied to any matter in issue and how the law should be applied to achieve a client’s desired outcome; and advocates for a client’s case in a closing statement.
The length of an arbitration varies depending on the availability of the parties, the arbitrator and any legal counsel involved, the number and complexity of the issues requiring resolution and the number of witnesses involved in the arbitration hearing.
Typically an arbitration lasts between one and ten days. An arbitration award (the binding decision rendered by the arbitrator) is rendered within one month of the conclusion of the arbitration hearing.
Yes. An arbitration award rendered in an arbitration process is legally binding on both parties pursuant to the Arbitration Act. An arbitration award can be converted into an Order of the Court of Queen’s Bench and enforced in the same manner as a Judgment rendered at trial.
Arbitration services are offered at a set hourly rate and therefore the cost of an arbitrated solution varies depending upon how long an arbitration hearing lasts. Typically, the length of arbitration is between one day and one week. Since it does not take nearly as long to get to arbitration than it takes to get to trial, arbitration tends to be significantly less expensive than litigation. Additionally, parties have the opportunity to control the level of formality of an arbitration hearing, which affords them more control over the cost of arbitration. In litigation, parties have no control over the process or level of formality.
Yes. Arbitration sessions are private, as are the communications, documentation and notes made in the course of arbitration. Litigation involves public court appearances, documentation and evidence all of which are matters of public record, accessible by anyone.
The only time an arbitration award will become public is if it needs to be turned into a court order for it to be enforced. In that case, it is possible that the arbitration award will become part of a public court file but the particulars of an arbitration would only ever become part of a public court file in the event that parties opted to have a court reporter transcribe the arbitration proceedings. Most people choose not to have arbitration proceedings transcribed.
The arbitration process always involves an initial arbitration meeting, an arbitration hearing and an arbitration award. When there are emergent matters that need to be resolved in advance of the arbitration hearing itself the arbitration process will also involve interim applications. Each part of the arbitration process is described more thoroughly below:
Initial Arbitration Meeting: there will be an initial arbitration session in order to:
- identify the issues to be resolved
- determine whether or not there are any emergent matters that require a decision prior to the arbitration hearing
- determine what steps, if any, are required prior to the arbitration hearing
- decide how formal the arbitration hearing will be
- identify the witnesses to provide evidence
- specify the length of time required to conduct the hearing
- set timelines and schedule the next steps and/or schedule the arbitration hearing
Interim Applications – any emergent matters are resolved by way of provisional arbitration hearings and temporary arbitration awards are rendered to resolve these issues.
Arbitration Hearing – the arbitration hearing allows parties to present evidence and argument. Many arbitrations only involve the parties themselves presenting evidence but some include third party witnesses, such as experts like business valuators or child psychologists.
Arbitration Award – an arbitration award is the binding decision which is issued by the arbitrator. The award is rendered within one month of the conclusion of the arbitration hearing.
While most of our clients choose not to retain divorce lawyers for our services, everyone is welcome to retain a divorce lawyer at any time during any resolution process. Although the professionals at Jones Divorce Mediation Inc. are all experienced family lawyers themselves they are not acting as either parties lawyer in any of the process options we offer. Our professionals can provide current and accurate legal information but they will not offer any legal advice to either party. If you want legal advice then you need to retain a divorce lawyer, who will be free to attend any session that is offered.
No. Jones Divorce Mediation Inc. is a company that is specifically designed for conflict resolution without the need to retain lawyers. Mediation is a straightforward process that is easy for individuals to navigate on their own. It is governed by the rules of natural justice and not the complicated Rules of Court, which makes many people feel comfortable mediating without divorce lawyers. If you want a lawyer, that is fine but it is optional, not required.
Parties are completely free to retain their own legal counsel at any time during any resolution process. Lawyers can attend Mediation, Mediation/Arbitration or Arbitration.
There are some issues that are not well suited for these services, such as situations where Child Family Services is involved, there is a history of severe abuse, or when a child has been removed from this jurisdiction. If this is your situation, you should retain a divorce lawyer.
Yes. Although many mediation settlement sessions typically take place with both parties in the same room as the mediator, it is also quite common for some portion of mediation settlement meetings to occur with the parties in separate rooms with the mediator going back and forth between the rooms. This is referred to as caucusing.
When caucusing occurs, the mediator always clearly clarifies whether or not what is said in the private meeting can be shared with the other party. Anything that is not expressly specified as shareable will be kept confidential by the mediator and will not be discussed with the other party.
Attending mediation can be intimidating. You may be nervous about even sitting in the same room as your ex and the issues to be resolved can be very stressful. In order to feel more in control and to ensure the mediation is effective, it is important to be prepared. Here are some tips:
- Think about the key issues carefully.
- Reflect on your interests, needs, goals, concerns, fears, and hopes. What is most important to you? (eg. happy and healthy children, financial security, fairness, certainty)
- Think about your spouseâ€™s perspective, interests and alternatives.
- Communicate effectively, which can be difficult. Speak to be understood and listen to understand. It is important for people to feel heard, to feel understood. The more you can understand and acknowledge the others perspective the more likely you are to achieve an agreement. Remember that understanding and/or acknowledgment does not indicate that you agree with their perspective.
- Focus on the future and be prepared to let go of the past. You could likely argue forever about the past without agreeing, it is a futile endeavor. Luckily agreeing on the past is unnecessary to reach a comprehensive resolution so let it go and focus on what you need to see happen in the future in order for you to say yes to a solution.
- Be open to trusting the mediation process, even if you do not trust your spouse. Trust the process.
- Gather any paperwork or factual information you believe will be relevant to reaching an agreement. This frequently includes:
- pay stubs
- income tax returns
- notices of assessment
- financial statements
- costs associated with your children’s education, extracurricular activities, medical expenses, etc.
- a list of assets and liabilities
- bank account statements
- investment statements, both registered and non-registered
- pension plan statements
- credit card statements
- loan statements
- mortgage statements
- real estate value appraisals, realtor opinions, city tax assessments
- vehicle value appraisals, blue/black book values
- monthly budget of expenses
- details and costs of retraining
- Identify possible solutions. Ideally you would generate at least three potential solutions that address both parties needs and interests for each and every issue. However, be open to alternatives. The more open you can be the more likely you will be successful.
- Be patient. A lot of the work in mediation is done in the beginning (gathering background facts, financial documentation, exploring interests, needs, fears and goals). That work can feel slow, cumbersome and frustrating but have faith. It is a process and is like building a pyramid. The wide base takes time but it is essential for the remainder. You need to allow sufficient time for a solution to be achieved.
- If you feel like terminating mediation, commit to taking a break and giving the mediator five minutes of your time before you actually terminate the process.
- Think positively a solution is just around the corner!
The processes provided by Jones Divorce Mediation Inc. can take anywhere from several hours to a few weeks. A matter that takes a few months is possible, but that would be considered very long.
The length of the process varies depending on the number of issues requiring resolution, the complexity of those issues, the degree of amicability, the level of entrenchment in positions at the commencement of mediation, the timing of mediation (eg. over Christmas, Spring Break or Summer vacations), and whether experts are required.
Jones Divorce Mediation Inc. offers its services either by hourly rate or pursuant to a predetermined all-inclusive flat rate. Once the number of issues and their complexity is determined a flat rate will be offered and you can then select the flat rate or hourly rate.Â With a flat rate, clients will know in advance how much the process will cost before they commit to using it.
Regardless of how complex a matter is and how adversarial parties are, a solution achieved through Jones Divorce Mediation Inc. will involve a mere fraction of the cost of a litigated resolution.
Mediation is a process that promotes effective communication, creative solutions and the resolution of conflict in a mutually agreeable manner. The way that issues get resolved can have a tremendous effect on a family’s adjustment to separation. All disputes can be resolved through mediation. Whether it is decision making, parenting time, the division of assets and debts or how income should be shared or any other number of issues mediation can lead to the best possible outcome.
Mediation is geared toward couples that are committed to working toward a solution to their dispute. Parties do not have to feel friendly to one another. In fact, it is very common for there to be feelings of anger, mistrust and trepidation about the other party. Mediation requires both parties to be involved in the process.
A mediated resolution can only be achieved through the participation of both parties to a dispute so both people need to be willing to work with the mediator to achieve a solution. Since mediation is a cooperative process where everybody is attacking the problem and not each other, it builds communication skills that can be used in future planning and parenting.
Mediation also promotes understanding which can lead to the foundation of a more cooperative relationship after divorce.
However, mediation is not for everyone, such as when Child Family Services is actively involved, when there is a history of severe abuse or when a child has been abducted from this jurisdiction.
Everything that happens in mediation stays in mediation. All discussions, admissions, proposals and negotiations which occur during mediation are without prejudice. That is, they cannot be used against a party in a later arbitration or court application. This is meant to encourage participants to speak freely and openly and to make resolution proposals without fear that their proposal could be held against them in another forum.
Mediation does not always result in a settlement of all issues. However, even reaching an agreement on some issues is beneficial since a reduction of the issues can significantly reduce the time and money it takes to resolve the remaining conflicts.
Parties that have outstanding issues after mediation are free to resolve those in whatever manner they choose. They can continue to negotiate an agreement or they can have a decision imposed upon them through court or arbitration.
At Jones Divorce Mediation Inc. we believe that it is best for people to achieve a prompt and cost effective resolution to their issues. We offer arbitration services for parties that are unable to agree on everything in mediation.
The mediation process offered by Jones Divorce Mediation Inc. is designed to maximize success. The mediation procedure is tailored to the level of conflict between the parties and the complexity of the issues involved. Jones Divorce Mediation Inc.’s mediation procedure typically involves the following steps:
- Parties jointly attend an information session in which the mediation agreement is reviewed and signed and the parties inform the mediator about what issues need to be discussed. Basic financial information (legally known as disclosure) that may be required for a successful mediation is identified, plans and procedure for obtaining that information are established, and parties are provided with valuable relevant legal information which may be important for them to consider when reaching an agreement.
- Each party can separately attend an hour-long mediation coaching session to acquire the essential skills for a successful mediation.
- The parties jointly attend one or more settlement meetings in order to:
Clients are responsible for:
- Raising issues that may need to be addressed
- Prioritizing the agenda items
- Respecting the mediation process
- Making proposals
- Making decisions
The mediator is a neutral and impartial third party who:
- Manages the mediation process
- Coaches parties on the skills for a successful mediation
- Provides general information
- Facilitates effective communication
- Translates by rephrasing or reframing
- Questions and clarifies the issues and concerns identified by the parties and the proposals made by the parties
- Advises on process
- Acts as a catalyst by inspiring new perspectives, posing reference points for consideration and stimulating an agreement
- Writes a mediation report outlining the terms of the partiesâ€™ agreement
Any matter in dispute can be resolved in mediation, mediation/arbitration, and arbitration. However, Jones Divorce Mediation Inc. deals only with divorce, separation and family issues, including parenting plans, division of property, child support, spousal support, communication, prenuptial agreements, cohabitation contracts, marriage agreements, decision making, parenting schedules, vacation schedules, child exchange arrangements, decisions related to the child such as education, health and welfare, place of residence and selection and participation in activities.
Our process options are not appropriate for situations of severe abuse, a child having been abducted or when Child Family Services is actively involved.
In situations where there is a history of domestic violence, mental illness or severe drug or alcohol abuse mediation is challenging. However, it is sometimes possible to have a successful mediation even with these issues because parties can meet with the mediator separately or they can have their lawyers attend mediation with them.
In order for mediation to be effective both parties need to be able to express themselves. If you wish to attempt mediation but you have one or more of these problems make sure you tell your mediator about the situation up front.
Typically, only the individuals involved in the dispute attend mediation. However, they are free to bring their legal counsel to mediation sessions with them.
Sometimes parties decide to consult a tax expert, financial advisor, business valuator, mental health professional or other expert. The expert may attend a mediation session to provide information and assistance to move the parties toward their agreement.
The mediator will not provide either party with legal advice but can provide some legal information. Each party is encouraged to consult legal counsel and receive legal advice at any point prior to or during mediation, as he or she feels is appropriate. Additionally, should a mediator feel that a party requires legal advice the mediator will recommend that party retain a divorce lawyer prior to attending another mediation session. Further, in order to make a mediated agreement binding, a legal contract will need to be drafted and each party will need to consult with independent legal counsel before the contract is signed.
The arbitration process offered by Jones Divorce Mediation Inc. involves the following steps:
- The Initial Arbitration Meeting
There will be an initial arbitration session in order to:
- identify the issues to be resolved
- determine what steps, if any, are required prior to the arbitration hearing
- decide how formal the arbitration hearing will be
- identify the witnesses to provide evidence
- specify the length of time required to conduct the hearing
- set timelines and schedule the next steps and/or schedule the arbitration hearing.
- Arbitration Hearing
The arbitration hearing allows parties to present evidence and argument. Many arbitrations only involve the parties themselves presenting evidence but some include third party witnesses, such as experts like business valuators or child psychologists.
- Arbitration Award
An arbitration award rendered in an arbitration process (by the arbitrator) is legally binding on both parties pursuant to the Arbitration Act. The award is rendered within one month of the conclusion of the arbitration hearing.