EXPERIENCED FAMILY LAW LAWYER-MEDIATORS NOW OFFERING MEDIATION SERVICES BY ZOOM VIDEO CONFERENCE.
Mediation is a voluntary alternative dispute resolution process to traditional and lawyer-led litigation. In mediation, participants work together out-of-court with a specially trained mediator to try to make good decisions for themselves and for their children to negotiate their own solution and to reach agreement.
Mediation can often resolve all of the conflict or dispute without having to go to court. Sometimes, it is also used together with arbitration and/or collaborative divorce and family law. There are also options for collaborative mediation where a collaborative trained neutral lawyer-mediator and a family professional work collaboratively with the couple to get them over legal, financial, and emotional hurdles to reach mutually acceptable agreements.
When couples who are looking to separate search for information about the process, they can often feel overwhelmed by information. Many lawyers are offering mediation services who have no formal training or experience in mediating disputes. Almost anyone can call themselves a mediator, so caution must be exercised to retain a properly trained and experienced family mediator.
With over 40 years of experience in resolving disputes concerning separations and divorce, the dedicated and responsive team at Sherman Law LLP understands how harmful court proceedings can be to a family and the importance of finding a way to have discussions and resolve disputes without causing hurt to the people involved. Our lawyer-mediators are certified in online dispute resolution (ODR) and will help you to find a solution without having to go to court.
A mediator is a neutral third party
Mediators are neutral facilitators who do not take sides, and do not decide for the participants how to settle their case. Rather, mediators assist the participants in exploring ways to resolve any disagreements in this confidential settlement process. A mediator helps to guide participants towards reaching resolution by applying an interest-based approach to conflict resolution where you will negotiate all of your family issues including property, support, parenting, the family home, and work towards reaching a mediation agreement.
Our experienced mediators know that a separation requires that people face painful issues and consider difficult decisions. The lawyer-mediators at Sherman Law LLP bring skill and experience to the process in helping parties to reduce stress and find solutions that meet their respective needs to guide couples towards a mutually acceptable resolution.
Mediation is a cost-effective process to resolve all disputes
Many online posts from others who have been in a high conflict separation and divorce will speak about dissatisfaction with the court process that is slow-moving and how savings were spent in endless legal fees. But it does not need to be this way. We believe that family law disputes are often best resolved outside of the courtroom. We provide our participants with a skilled process and worksheets that include all of the topics that need to be discussed and reviewed for the court to be able to approve the terms of separation as part of the divorce in a cost-effective manner, and without ever having to go to court.
Mediation helps to maintain and improve relationships
Mediation allows couples to be able to work through their issues and at their own pace. We use neutral third-party mediation to assist and facilitate participants in conflict to have conversations to resolve their disputes by applying principled negotiation strategies from Harvard Law School that focus on their interests. We begin our process by listening to the participants' concerns. We acknowledge the nature of the conflict that brought the participants to seek the assistance of the mediator, and we work together to set goals and to generate options to resolve conflict. We develop an awareness of each participant's role in the conflict, as well as the impact that the conflict is having on each participant's life. We focus on the emotional and physical needs of the participants. You are in control of your life, and you can be in control of your own separation.
We believe that no one is more skilled in making thoughtful and proper decisions about your life than you. We have seen how couples are empowered when they are able to make decisions about their life, rather than a stranger in the court system making decisions for you and your family. The mediation process honours your autonomy, welcomes your insights, and respects your decisions. Mediation produces better results for families than the traditional court system, and at less than half of the cost. Mediation can be an effective process when you have a guide who is familiar with the roadmap.
Mediation results in fair and interest-based dispute resolution
Our role as mediators is to facilitate client-led conversations and negotiations. We know that peacemaking can prevail and that civility can be found even in the most emotional and challenging conversations. The mediation process results in fair and interest-based dispute resolution because we shift the focus from blame and anger to being mindful, developing emotional intelligence, and having reflective thought in considering options, ideas, and solutions that consider the interests of each person.
Mediation is a positive experience for participants
We help families to move forward toward healing, provide our clients with a measure of security and stability in the midst of uncertainty, and always advance children’s best interests. Families can save time, money and energy by working together with a neutral mediator to work through their issues without having to go to court. The resolution of family law matters by mediation is a positive experience for participants when they examine their respective interests in a safe and welcoming environment.
Mediation can resolve all issues including property division, support, and parenting
Mediators who are also trained lawyers understand the law and can lead the mediation process with this knowledge and insight. We can assist you with issues relating to parenting and to separation issues including property and financial support. As a neutral third-party, the mediator cannot provide legal advice to the participants, but we provide you with an informative review of the law. The participants would be encouraged to consult with their own legal counsel for Independent Legal Advice (ILA) once the mediation sessions have been completed and the participants have reached resolution and settlement.
Our family law lawyers also assist clients as legal counsel for those who are seeking to resolve their family law legal disputes with the assistance of a neutral family law mediator outside of our firm. In these circumstances, we work with you, the neutral mediator, the other party, and their legal counsel to facilitate settlement discussions and to resolve your dispute through mutually agreeable terms of settlement that are often included in a mediated agreement prepared by legal counsel.
HOW DOES THE MEDIATION PROCESS WORK?
We get to know you and learn about your family.
We offer a complementary 30 minute meet and greet by Zoom to get to know our lawyer-mediators and to review the mediation process. We believe that participants should have the option of getting to know the lawyer-mediator before committing to the mediation process. If the participants decide to work with the lawyer-mediator, the next step is to review and sign an Agreement to Mediate with the lawyer-mediator and to schedule an intake appointment.
Our sessions begin with an intake appointment, which takes about 60 minutes where we meet each of you individually so that you have an opportunity to talk to us about your own individual concerns in confidence prior to the mediation. Our intake appointments are also a pre-mediation interview where your particular fact situation will be reviewed so that you know what documents or information you need to bring to your appointment. As part of the intake appointment, we have private discussions about intimate partner violence, domestic violence, and power imbalances in the relationship. The safety of our participants is a top priority.
The parties and the lawyer-mediators will then meet together for a series of mediation sessions. These sessions will last about 2 hours. Some people decide to mediate in the same room, while others decide to use separate rooms. We will help you make the right choice for your situation. Now that we are using Zoom technology in our virtual sessions, we have the ability to mediate using breakout rooms that allow us to facilitate a combination of both options.
Sometimes, it is helpful to have a neutral evaluation.
Many people find that it is helpful to receive a neutral evaluation of their case. In these circumstances, the participants will agree within a confidential settlement process that the mediator will provide a without prejudice neutral evaluation of the issues that relate to the mediation. The neutral evaluator will not make decisions for the participants, and will express a view or evaluate the position of either participant on a particular issue. The neutral evaluator is careful not to provide legal advice to the participants.
We help you to gather, organize and share information.
In most circumstances, you will be required to provide financial information and disclosure of all financial interests to the other participant, especially if they are your spouse or common-law partner and there are issues of financial support and property to be reviewed. We can assist you in organizing and discussing your finances as they relate to the separation.
We focus on your family.
We can assist you in reviewing parenting options and to create a Parenting Plan that will be included as part of your agreement, which includes the parenting schedules, responsibilities, and activities for the children that parents will use to share parenting and decision-making responsibilities. Our lawyer-mediators have advanced training through the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts - Ontario that promotes a collaborative approach to serving the needs of children and best practice models.
We keep you on the right path towards dispute resolution.
The mediator will provide the participants with Progress Notes including homework as the mediation sessions progress so that there is a recorded history of the discussions. These notes are usually without prejudice and confidential.
Once the mediation sessions have been completed and resolution of issues has been reached by way of an agreement-in-principle, the mediator will provide them with a Memorandum of Understanding, also known as a Mediation Report that documents the terms of the agreement. Participants would be encouraged to consult with their own legal counsel for Independent Legal Advice (ILA), and for the drafting of any required written agreement.
In some circumstances, we are also able to assist the participants in drafting a Mediated Separation Agreement, which would require each participant to consult with their own legal counsel for ILA prior to signing the Agreement. We cannot provide legal advice, so it important to retain your own lawyer for that purpose.
HOW MUCH DOES MEDIATION COST?
Our family lawyer-mediators believe that mediation should be accessible and affordable for everyone. That's why we help couples resolve family disputes out-of-court by working towards healthy and sustainable solutions.
Mediation should be accessible to everyone. We offer two-hour, half-day, and full-day sessions based on a flat rate starting at $850.00 plus HST and applicable disbursements.
We also offer mediation packages starting at $5,000.00 plus HST that include two mediation sessions (6 hours total) and the drafting of a Mediated Separation Agreement, not including the requirement for or preparation of financial disclosure, and the requirement for ILA prior to signing the Agreement.
We accept new clients by referral from lawyers and family professionals. We also accept new clients by intake without a referral. Our intake sessions start at $425.00 plus HST and include a getting to know you session to learn more about you and your interests and goals.
If you would like to explore how the family mediators at Sherman Law LLP can help you resolve your legal problems and dispute through an out of court process, please contact our office for more information or to schedule an intake appointment. We are currently offering mediation appointments through Zoom video conferencing, which does not require personal attendance in our office during COVID-19.
Over 40 years of firm experience has taught us that most people benefit from having a lawyer as part of the mediation process, but at less than half the cost of legal fees of litigation or lawyer-led negotiations.
The mediator cannot be your lawyer. This can be very problematic for clients for two reasons. First, a mediator’s role is to act as a neutral party. Second, a mediator does not represent or protect your interests because they are neutral and impartial. It is important for those choosing to mediate a family dispute to remember that hiring a mediator should not always be a substitute for having your own lawyer because most clients benefit from legal advice and representation, even if it is to seek clarity on the issues about your case. Legal issues including financial disclosure, property division, equalization, parenting issues such as custody, access, and child support, spousal support, and the preparation and drafting of a Separation Agreement or Parenting Plan require proper legal advice from a lawyer.
If you believe that you would benefit from having legal counsel instead of a neutral family mediator, then we would encourage you to read about collaborative divorce and family law as an alternative to the mediation process and to consider collaborative mediation.
Many non-lawyer mediators encourage clients to retain them instead of hiring their own lawyers, but they don't have the knowledge of family law to properly assist the participants in resolving the dispute. Our mediators will provide each couple with a review of the law and options available to them, but we do not provide legal advice. Each participant is encouraged to consult with their own legal counsel for Independent Legal Advice (ILA) once the mediation sessions have been completed and the participants have reached resolution and settlement.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT MEDIATION OPTIONS AVAILABLE?
Let's discuss some frequently used terms...
For over 40 years, clients have trusted in our ability to explain more than simply their legal rights and obligations in a separation or a divorce. We focus on sustainable collaboration that leads to creative solutions and consensual dispute resolution. We are confident that you will appreciate our professionalism and personalized service. To benefit from our knowledge and experience with respect to family mediation as part of your separation or divorce, please contact 519-884-0034 or send us an email.
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