Family mediation - Negotiating a fair agreement
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It is important for parents who separate to make careful choices, of their own free will, concerning the consequences of the separation. Since emotions are running high, you will need to be guided through the decision-making process as you define a new life plan and choose how you will play your role as parents.
The family mediation program at the Ministère de la Justice allows couples with dependent children, whether or not they are married, to receive a number of free sessions with a professional mediator if they decide to separate or divorce or want to apply for the review of a judgment or agreement.
Parents who have previously used the family mediation program can contact it again for the review of a judgment or agreement. The mediation is financed in part by the federal government's Canadian Family Justice Fund.
From February 18, 2021, to June 30, 2022, couples with no common dependent children will be eligible for three hours of free mediation with an accredited family mediator. This is an enhancement to the Ministère’s Family mediation program. It gives you the opportunity to settle your separation amicably, whether you are married or not.
What is more, a new free pre-mediation service is available to couples who have opted for mediation. This service to inform and help prepare you for mediation is offered by the Community Justice Centers. It can equip you for mediation, should you require it. You may also contact a family mediator directly, as you have been entitled to do since the creation of the family mediation program.
Advantages of mediation
Family mediation helps reduce conflicts in connection with an application for custody, access and outing rights, support payments or the division of property. In addition, it helps parents take responsibility for the decision-making process.
Family mediation will help you:
- work together to define a parenting plan tailor-made for your family;
- establish effective parental communications with respect to your children;
- take your children’s interest into account, along with the interest of each parent;
- protect the image of the other parent;
- make free and enlightened decisions about all aspects of your separation.
The agreement you negotiate will ensure that your children react positively to your separation and will give you some influence over decisions that concern you, while helping you to fully exercise your parental responsibilities.
However, in some situations family mediation is unlikely to be appropriate, including situations involving domestic violence.
In 2017, the Ministère de la Justice asked the enterprise SOM to conduct a survey of parents after they had used family mediation services. The survey results show that
- 84% of parents reached an agreement with their former spouse during the family mediation process;
- 81% of parents were satisfied with the services obtained, among other things because the process was easy (97%) and because mediation took the interests of their children into account (90%);
- 90% of respondents would use the services again if needed.
The survey was conducted with financial assistance from the federal government's Canadian Family Justice Fund.
To find out more about the surveys:
Compulsory attendance at a parenting and mediation information session
Since January 1, 2016, attendance at a parenting after separation information session has been a legal requirement if you and your spouse still disagree on any question concerning your separation at the time you are scheduled to be heard by a judge.