Mediation services will reduce conflict while preserving the relationship of all those involved. It is a collaborative, not adversarial, process. Mediation is a problem-solving process in which two or more parties voluntarily work together to resolve their differences with the assistance of a trained mediator who is an impartial third party. The advantage of mediation is that it gives parties the power to settle their own dispute and with guidance, create solutions that will best meet their needs and all parties involved, it has also shown that it creates better future outcomes for everyone.
In divorce mediation the goal is to help you and your spouse or partner work through divorce-related issues and arrive at mutually agreeable conclusions. Through effective communication and problem-solving methods, I enable you to review your options together and generate creative solutions that work best for you and your children. Family conflicts can be emotional and upsetting, whether it’s as simple as harmful patterns of communication or as complex as running a family business or property. Sometimes it takes an outside party to come in and help facilitate a resolution.
Role of the Mediator:
Provide a non-judgemental, supportive and safe environment to help parties clarify the issues and understand what is important to each and all. Mediators do not decide who is right and who is wrong, take sides, offer advice or impose solutions. Mediators will keep confidential all that is said during the mediation. With the mediator’s guidance, the parties explore possible solutions and come to an agreement that is acceptable to them. Solutions are voluntary. Parties tend to follow the terms of the agreement because they have helped craft the solutions. In Family mediation I can provide information on child development that you can both use to help guide your solutions. Mediation is cost effective and quick. Mediations can normally be scheduled within a couple of weeks and generally take no more than a few couple hour sessions. Alternatives such as litigation or arbitration dramatically increase the cost of resolving the dispute as well as the time it takes to bring the parties together.
Arbitration is a procedure in which the parties agree to refer a dispute to arbitration, and agree to be bound by the arbitration decision. A third party reviews the evidence in the case and imposes a decision this is legally binding on both sides and is enforceable in the courts. At Fairway, we prefer the Parties come to resolution without having to arbitrate but sometimes having a third qualified party make the decision (like a Judge) is the only option. The Fairway® Arbitrator will hear arguments, review evidence and render a decision. The parties agree beforehand to be bound by this decision.
Parenting Through Divorce or Separation
It is possible for children to live happily, thrive, and to emerge from a divorce with minimal impact on their self esteem, a positive value system, belief that they deserve to be happy and are lovable, and on their ability to form and keep relationships.
But this doesn’t happen automatically, or by default. It requires work – and a lot of it.
Your children don’t need you and your spouse to fight over them – what they do need is for you to STOP fighting.
Luckily, statistics seem to show that children report that their parents get along better after the divorce than during the latter part of their marriage.
Here are things your children need, regardless of age:
Unconditional love and acceptance
At least one actively involved parent
To know (and to really believe) that it is not their fault
To be allowed to love both parents
There are many resources to help you with the issues of raising children through divorce. Our two favorites are:
Helping Your Kids cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way – by Gary Neuman
The Truth about Children and Divorce – by Robert Emery
If your children are under 16, you are required to complete a course mandated by the Government of Alberta called Parenting After Separation. It is now available online. Once you have done your research and have come to understand what your children need, then you have to work out a parenting plan with your spouse.
A comprehensive Parenting Plan contains information about:
Schedules – who will have the children for what times (e.g. every 2nd weekend, or every 2nd week, 1 weekend per month, 50/50 sharing, school year at one house – summer vacation at the other, etc.), details regarding Christmas and other holidays, how to choose summer vacations (what happens if both Parties want to take the children on the same week), birthdays, Mother/Father’s day, Are the driving responsibilities shared / one sided?
Decision Making– Who makes day to day decisions? How are decisions regarding medical, education, religion handled? Who will be responsible to take the children for medical and dental appointments?
A multitude of other issues (international travel, who keeps the birth certificates, baby sitting, what happens if you can’t look after the children on the times when you are responsible, day care costs, allowance, RESP contributions, etc.)
A comprehensive Parenting Plan is not so much a matter of law, but of discussing and agreeing on how you and your spouse are going to manage the business of raising your children. It constantly astounds us with the number of people who think they can somehow manage one of life’s most important and complicated responsibilities without a plan. While some people believe they can be flexible and want nothing more than a statement that says each will have free and generous access to the children, at some point there can be a wrinkle where the parents are not in agreement. If disagreement happens, and there is a good chance at least one will, how will you make a decision? If you need a Judge to make the decision, what happens while you are awaiting trial? Where are the children? When do you get to see them?
Rather than negotiating children as if they are a car or some other piece of property, we require the couple to come in together and to focus on the best interests of the children. In the joint parenting meeting, we work with you to help determine what this would look like in your circumstance. You may be divorcing your spouse – but your children need both of their parents. You and your spouse need to take the high road and focus on the best interests of the children.