Mediation – Should I go for it?
Mediation is not the right route for everyone, but if it is for you than you should arrange it as early as possible in the process.
Why is it not right for everyone? Mainly because there are those who are more interested in fighting than settling. More interested in punishing their spouse than moving on. More interested in giving as much money as possible to their lawyer than giving it to their spouse or their children.
Separation and divorce are emotionally driven processes. Those emotions operate at different levels for different people, but in my experience the majority of separated couples begin in a high emotional state which modifies as time goes by. This modification process is usually a result of a number of factors which include: a. just the passage of time; b. getting tired of fighting; c. running out of money or finally realizing just how much money it is costing; d. finally realizing what a terrible effect the constant fighting is having on your children; e. someone new in your life which motivates you to get this over with; f. a hundred other reasons.
Why mediate? For several reasons. First, it is way less expensive than litigating while your rights to litigate are preserved. Second, if it is not 100% successful you will likely at least be able to narrow the issues over which you need to continue to be in conflict. Third, it is a self-directed process. The mediator is there to guide you not direct you. You are the ones who make the decisions and you are the ones who determine the outcome, not a judge who is a complete stranger – a person who has never met you before and will never see you again.
If you engage in closed mediation then nothing you say can ever be repeated in the court process. If you reach an agreement that agreement will not be binding until you have had an opportunity to review it with your own lawyer. Anything you agree to during mediation can be altered or even cancelled at any time up until you sign an actual agreement with independent legal advice.
Try and approach the entire process like it is a business negotiation – one where your objective is to try to make the best deal for yourself.
Steven M. Bookman is an experienced family law lawyer located in Toronto, Ontario. He can be contacted at 416-488-2243 or at [email protected]. Visit the firm’s web site at www.bookmanlaw.com.