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INFORMATION SESSION:  Following the free initial consultation, if you and your spouse decide to proceed with mediation we will schedule individual sessions with each of you to begin the path towards coming to a resolution.  At this stage, you can expect to be asked basic "get to know you" questions in addition to learning about your main concerns and desired outcome.  Further, you will become privy to your rights and responsibilities within a mediation framework.  The intake piece is perhaps the most critical aspect of mediation because it determines process design on how the mediation will unfold given the nuances between you and your spouse.  At the conclusion of the intake you will be informed of the next steps so that you have a degree of comfort with the process.            

at Mediation LoungeTM

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FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE:  With basic intakes on both spouses completed the mediator will contact each of you via email with a comprehensive disclosure list.  Upon receipt of documents, the mediator will review all financial information and if sufficient, will initiate the mediation process.  Prior to the first financial mediation session, the mediator will begin to organize all of the financial data in anticipation of presenting this to you in order to convey the financial implications.  Family Law rules in Ontario stipulate how assets and liabilities are divided.  There are also certain date of marriage deduction and exclusions that may be in play.  While we are not in a position to provide legal advice, we will guide you through the basic premise of these rules and encourage you to obtain independent legal advice.  We work with a varied group of legal and other professionals and will offer referrals or you may wish to find them on your own at your discretion.    

For more complex financial scenarios the initial portion of the mediation will likely involve ensuring each spouse fully understands the financial workings of the other party.  There can be no agreement if either spouse is disadvantaged by a lack of knowledge or understanding.  We use our background in asset valuation and finances to clearly explain the numbers to you.  However, certain situations will require the aid of outside experts and you will be informed of this as the situation warrants.  

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MEDIATION PROCESS BEGINS (PARENTING PLAN):  As is often the case, financial documentation and other related information takes time to assemble and have in place for a proper mediation.  While this is being gathered, needless to say we know your children are your priority.  Research has shown that minimizing conflict between separating spouses translates into a healthier transition for the children under the new reality of two households.  This portion of the mediation process often involves development of a sound Parenting Plan that addresses the sensitivities of the children.  A Parenting Plan can be quite detailed, listing everything from day-to-day parenting schedules, holiday routines, extra-curricular activities, among other areas of the children's lives.  We are by nature compassionate in our work and will make every effort to help you resolve Parenting and Decision-Making of the children as expeditious as possible.  

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FINANCIAL MEDIATION:  Your financial future is key to moving forward.  The Ontario Family Law Rules determine division of assets under the premise of Equalization.  Equalization is a concept whereby the person with a higher net worth (Net Family Property - Assets less Liabilities) will make a payment to the other spouse in order to "equalize" the value of assets otherwise known as Property.  Property may take many forms including but not limited to real estate, businesses, pensions, securities, etc.  Importantly, Equalization of Property is based entirely on the net gain from date of marriage to date of separation.  Consequently, the Family Law provisions allow for date of marriage deductions.  Along these lines, Family Law rules also permit exclusions that may be entirely omitted from equalization if certain procedures were followed with how these exclusionary assets were held during the marriage.  Exclusions may include inheritances, insurance settlements, etc.  While we will prepare your financial snapshot with the above rules in mind we encourage you to independently verify this with independent legal counsel.  Aside from Property considerations there will often be support obligations.  We will utilize our understanding of financial issues and help you mend differences towards an acceptable outcome.  At times, financial mediations can be fairly complex and may require several sessions in order to come to an agreement.    

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FINALITY:  Upon conclusion of the financial and parenting plan mediation, the Mediator will draft a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU").  As the title implies, this document simply notes the agreement between the parties and is therefore not legally binding.  Each spouse must seek independent legal advice from a qualified Family Lawyer as to the terms contained in the MOU.  Not until the terms of the MOU are incorporated into a separation agreement do they become legally binding and enforceable if entered with the court.  On the presumption that you have been separated for at least one (1) year and have a separation agreement that has addressed all considerations between you and your former spouse, you may now apply for a Divorce Certificate.  

While the process between couples at this point is considered final, in reality if there are children or spousal support obligations the issue of income of the paying spouse for support will be an on-going consideration for potentially years to come.  Couples are encouraged to make reasonable effort towards resolution among themselves and seek the assistance of a mediator if discussions fail.  

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