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What is Mediation?

Mediation is a legal process that allows two parties to resolve a conflict on their own. Each party may have their own legal counsel to advise them on how to position their needs or goals, but the process itself is usually between a meditator and the two parties.

It's a form of alternative dispute resolution, which means that the discussions and negotiations happen outside of a courtroom. If you have a list of items that need to be resolved, using mediation may help you resolve them. This can help you reduce your legal fees by only taking the most contentious issues to court.

The Ontario Steps To Justice site has a lot of information on how mediation works. Some key characteristics of mediation include:

  • Mediation is not a court proceeding. This means the costs are generally lower (although not always) and the timeframe is usually a lot faster. The time necessary includes booking a time with a mediator and taking care of any needed follow-ups. Still, the process generally has a shorter waiting period than selecting a court date. However, it may still take a while to resolve your issues, but that would on a case-by-case scenario.
  • Mediation is not mandatory. You don't have to undergo mediation if you don't want to. For some parties, they don't want to speak to their spouse due to emotional or safety reasons. This means they may wish to go straight to court and let their lawyers do the talking on their behalf. This is common in sensitive situations. But if you do choose go this route, it will be your choice.

It's important to note that mediation is a facilitated conversation. In many scenarios, each of the parties may disagree because they don't understand why the other person wants certain things. Each lawyer is protecting their client's rights, fighting tooth and nail to make sure they get what their client wants. This could be creating a barrier to a more reasonable solution.

Seeing something from another person's point of view, or at least understanding why they feel a certain way, goes a long way to helping two parties reach an agreement. This is usually achieved when the parties can speak directly to each other, and not filter all communication through their lawyers. It may not change your demands, but it may change your strategy going into a negotiation.

If you want to explore alternative methods of resolution, it's best advised to consult with lawyers who have experience in mediation proceedings. Many lawyers act as mediators themselves or at least understand how to counsel parties that are undergoing the process.

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