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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 a few of 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. Timeframe in this case means to book a time with a mediator, and any necessary follow-ups. The process generally has a shorter waiting period than selecting a court date. However, It may still 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 the other person or persons 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 family situations or sensitive situations. But it you do choose it go this route, it will be your choice.

It’s important to note that mediation is a facilitated conversation. In many scenarios, each the parties may disagree because they don’t understand why the other person wants certain things. Because each lawyer is protecting their client’s rights, fighting tooth and nail to make sure they get what their client wants could also be creating a barrier for 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 each an agreement. This is usually achieved when the parties can speak directly to each other, not 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 understand how to counsel parties that are undergoing the process.

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