|Separation or Divorce Related Mediation|
Friend of the Court Program
When parties in a dispute cannot resolve their differences between themselves, they are encouraged to participate in alternative dispute resolution as a step prior to a third party investigation or court. Typically, when parties go to court, decisions affecting their family are made by the judge, based upon available evidence and according to law. Often times parties feel that going to court and having a judge make the decision results in a sense of loss, because decisions are made by someone not directly affected by the outcome. Alternative dispute resolution places the responsibility for settling issues upon parties, without the direct involvement of the court.
The Friend of the Court Program can recommend mediation services whenever there is a dispute regarding custody or parenting time. These services will be provided by a trained mediator referred from the Friend of the Court Program.
When is mediation appropriate?
Mediation is different from other forms of dispute resolution in that both parties must consent to mediation before it can occur. Mediation is voluntary. When a party to a pending or post-judgment court action or custody/parenting time dispute contacts the Friend of the Court, the alternative of mediation will be offered. If both parties desire mediation they will be scheduled an appointment with an approved mediator. Both parties will meet together with the mediator at a mutually agreeable time. Attorneys may not be present during any mediation session.
What about confidentiality?
Communication between a mediator and the parties or between the parties themselves in the presence of the mediator in domestic relations mediation is normally kept confidential. The communication may not be admitted into evidence in any court proceeding. The mediator involved in the case will not be involved in any other functions or discussions with others involved with the Friends of the Court Program or member of the Family Justice Review Committee. Mediation can be open if both parties agree.
Should mediation efforts fail in close mediation setting, then information brought forth in mediation will not be made available to investigators who may be involved at a later step in gathering information for the court.
What if we reach an agreement?
If the parties can reach an agreement through mediation, a consent order incorporating the agreement will be prepared by the Friend of the Court or by one or both of the parties' attorneys. The consent order will be reviewed by representatives of the Family Justice Review Committee and presented to, and signed by the court.
The parties involved will be responsible for all costs of mediation. Some services may be available on a reduced or no cost basis depending on availability of volunteer mediators and the financial ability of the parties. Parties can also choose to obtain mediation through any outside person or agency of their choice, or through their attorney, should they wish
Scheduling an interview
An appointment can be scheduled by calling us at (416) 410-4115.