It happened twice this week, and despite my continuing efforts to combat the misunderstandings, it will inevitably happen again.

People who simply believe all they need to do to settle their family law matters is to retain a mediator to start and finish the necessary details.

Now, before anyone thinks I’m anti-mediation, I’m a qualified family law mediator myself, and I often recommend mediation to help settle contentious family disputes.

But people misunderstand the role of the mediator in the mediation process. Even if the mediator is a practicing family law lawyer, such as myself, the job of the mediator is not to inform you of your legal rights, or focus on helping you achieve your best legal interests. Rather, it more or less resembles, “Let’s Make a Deal.”

That job remains the domain of family lawyers. Before any mediation should take place there are two things which are absolutely essential beforehand. The first, is to know your legal rights, the second, is to have full disclosure. In the absence of either, there is substantial risk that your legal interests will not be properly protected. While lawyers also typically attend mediations with their clients, it is not a requirement. Although, if your spouse will be having their lawyer attend, it is prudent to have your own present as well, otherwise it could be like bringing a knife to a gunfight.

But there is one other important consideration, which I constantly remind anyone thinking to resolve all of their family law matters through mediation. Mediation is only helpful if there is significant disagreement on a particular matter, which cannot otherwise be settled by good faith negotiations. In other words before scheduling a mediation, every effort should be made to first negotiate an agreement of various matters. Only those matters which can’t be settled through negotiation should be referred to mediation. The fewer issues there are to settle at mediation means far less time at mediation, and much less potential cost to you.

So, If you want to improve your chance of a successful mediation, prepare yourself first with knowledge of your legal interests, and demand complete disclosure.

That’s my job.

Don’t be a mediation dummy. Talk to me Scott Taylor @ 604-534-6361

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