Mediation is a voluntary, confidential, nonbinding process where the selected independent mediator meets with the parties, with their legal counsel if desired, to address issues arising from the end of their relationship.
Mediation can occur at any stage , at the outset of a separation, during the separation, or on the eve of court dates.
The sessions occur in either a conference room or through a secure video facility.
The mediator will address the respective parties’ concerns, summarize the issues, and prioritize them for discussion ranging from urgent to long term issues.
The mediators role is to facilitate discussion about possible solutions to the defined issues
There is a fundamental requirement that each party provide full financial disclosure, with supporting documentation, of assets, debts, and incomes to allow the mediation process to proceed.
During the sessions, the mediator will seek out each client’s interests and attempt to find a solution that works for both parties.
The mediator will point out the applicable legal principles for each issue, but mediation allows the parties to agree to their own solution.
If the mediation is successful a written memorandum will be prepared by the mediator, to be formally approved by the parties with a requirement for independent legal advice to make it binding.
Information received during the mediation process can be factored into a subsequent arbitration procedure for any unresolved issues.
The parties are responsible for the mediator’s professional fees.
Family law Services
If the parties are unable to reach a mutual consensus on some issues, these defined issues by agreement of the parties can be referred to a agreed neutral Arbitrator for a binding award pursuant to the provisions of the Alberta Arbitration Act. The Arbitration Act sets out an exhaustive legislative code for the conduct of an Arbitration. In many cases the assigned mediator can become the final arbitrator.
There is a general consensus that personal family matters are better resolved in private rather than a public court room. All information provided at the Arbitration is confidential.
The Arbitration procedure requires the clients enter into a written agreement to arbitrate, identifying the issues to be arbitrated and setting out a timeline for the Arbitration process.
Generally, each party will be required to submit to the Arbitrator a concise written summary of their positions on the issues, with supporting documents.
The Arbitrator, by agreement of the parties and their legal counsel, may make the award on the basis of these written materials or, if necessary or requested by the parties, the Arbitrator can direct there be a full hearing with witnesses, cross examination, and additional legal arguments and exhibits.
Once the hearing is completed the Arbitrator will issue a written award within a specified timeline, usually 30 days.
The costs of the Arbitrator are usually initially shared by the parties, with the Arbitrator having the power to award costs to the successful litigant.
There is a limited right of appeal to the courts from awards where the Arbitration has been properly conducted.
Helpful Information and Resources for Mediation / Arbitration
The Notice to Disclose Application is frequently used in family law to request financial disclosure. This provides your lawyer the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of both you and your former spouse or adult interdependent partners overall finances to assist in negotiating child and spousal support and property equalization. Once a Notice to Disclose Application, both parties have an ongoing obligation to provide up to date and current financial disclosure until a resolution is reached.
The Schedule A forms part of the parties standard financial disclosure obligations and is provided in the Notice to Disclose Application. This document summarizes a party’s assets and liabilities. As it must be sworn before a Commissioner for Oath in and for the Province of Alberta, it is used in an effort to ensure party’s are forthcoming and transparent when providing their financial disclosure.
A budget is typically requested in the standard Notice to Disclose Application. The attached template provides a comprehensive summary of income and expenses. Often, budgets are used to gain a deeper understanding of each party’s current monthly surplus/deficit to assist with child and spousal support applications.
As there is a presumption that family property will be divided equally, the attached property spreadsheet is often used in family law to calculate a potential equalization amount once financial disclosure has been fully exchanged. It is usually completed by your lawyer and provides a starting point to help facilitate negotiations.