Frequently Asked Questions

Everything you really need to know about divorce mediation.

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.

General Questions

Quick answers to our most common customer questions.
When do I need a divorce lawyer?
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 mediators 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 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.
Will the process cost more if I have a divorce lawyer attend?
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 lawyer's hourly rate for preparing for and attending the resolution process selected.
Will the mediator or arbitrator provide legal advice?
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.

Questions About Mediation

Learn more about our Mediation services.
During mediation, can I speak with the mediator privately?
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.
How can I prepare for mediation?
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 spouse'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!
How long will the process take?
The processes provided by Jones Divorce Mediation 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.
How much will the process cost?
Jones Divorce Mediation 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. 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.
Is mediation for me?
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.
Is mediation private and confidential?
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.
What if we cannot reach an agreement through mediation?
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 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.
What is involved in the mediation process?
The mediation process offered by Jones Divorce Mediation 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’s mediation procedure typically involves the following steps:

 1. 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.

 2. Each party can separately attend an hour-long mediation coaching session to acquire the essential skills for a successful mediation.

 3. The parties jointly attend one or more settlement meetings in order to:
◦ discuss the matters in issue
◦ explore each party’s interests, needs and goals
◦ make proposals for a harmonious solution
◦ evaluate resolution options, and
◦ finalize a comprehensive settlement that is acceptable to both parties.
What is the client's role in mediation?
Clients are responsible for:

 • Raising issues that may need to be addressed
• Prioritizing the agenda items
• Respecting the mediation process
• Making proposals
• Making decisions
What is the role of the mediator?
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 parties' agreement
What issues can be discussed?
Any matter in dispute can be resolved in mediation, mediation/arbitration, and arbitration. However, Jones Divorce Mediation 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.
When should these process options be avoided?
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.
Who may attend?
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.

Questions About Arbitration

Learn more about our Arbitration services.
What is a divorce lawyer's role in arbitration?
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.
How long does arbitration take?
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.
Is an arbitration resolution legally binding?
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.
How much will arbitration cost?
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.
Is arbitration private and confidential?
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.
What is involved in the arbitration process?
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.
Can I use a lawyer?

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 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.
Do I need a lawyer?
No. Jones Divorce Mediation 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.
What are the steps involved in arbitration?
The arbitration process offered by Jones Divorce Mediation involves the following steps:

 1. 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.

 2. 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.

 3. 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.

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