Pier Family Mediation
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Kendelle made the process of mediation very easy for both myself and my ex-husband. At a time when emotions can be extremely high, she was patient, walked us through the entire process and kept us focused on the separation and our kids. We were so pleased that we referred our friends to her, who also were extremely happy with the outcome and process of mediation with Kendelle.
The Pier Law Approach.
At Pier Law & Mediation, we are not a ‘one size fits all’ firm. Each family is unique, and we tailor our services to meet your legal needs. That said, there are three core steps to the resolution process.
While divorce cases can vary from straightforward to complex, these three steps are at the heart of the overall process.
Commonly asked mediation questions.
Family mediation in a family law context is much the same as any other mediation process: a neutral third party (the mediator) assists two disputing parties (the separating spouses) to reach a resolution to their various matters in dispute. When you are looking to settle the issues that are problematic to reaching and signing a Separation Agreement, our South Surrey family mediator, Kendelle L. Pollitt, at Pier Law & Mediation can help facilitate a better solution through family mediation.
Family mediation lawyers are neutral third parties who are tasked with facilitating dialogue between two disputing spouses or partners, to facilitate an agreement or settlement of the dispute. It is not necessary for two disputing parties to be effective communicators for family mediation to be successful. That is the role of your family mediator. At Pier Law & Mediation, our White Rock and South Surrey family mediator will guide the parties through the mediation process using a variety of tools and techniques that have been proven to facilitate resolution of conflict.
Family mediation takes place out of court, usually in a neutral place such as the mediator’s office and is a voluntary process.
Family mediation can take place at any stage of a separation, whether you and your spouse have just decided to separate or you are in the midst of a heated court battle. Our South Surrey family mediator can guide you through the process.
Sometimes spouses attend family mediation if they are contemplating separation or are very recently separated, but are not quite ready to make final decisions on all matters arising from a separation. In this instance, family mediation can help a couple make temporary arrangements such as how they will share finances, organize living arrangements, or share parenting time while they take time to determine whether or not they wish to continue with their relationship in the future.
More commonly, family mediation is sought by couples who have made the decision to separate, but need some help settling how to separate their financial and other personal matters in a final way. For example, a mediator may assist the parties in negotiating how property and debts will be divided; what, if any support will be paid; and parenting arrangements.
Even in this instance, mediation can assist with negotiating not only a final deal, but also interim measures until the negotiated and final measures can take place. For example, separating spouses may decide at mediation to sell the family home and settle how the net sale proceeds will be divided once sold. However, they may also need to negotiate who will live in the family home, pay the household bills, or what if any repairs will be done to the home before the sale takes place.
Finally, it is not uncommon for separating couples to utilize mediation even when parties have been disputing in court, often with lawyers and have a trial pending; or, a trial has concluded but the former spouses continue to disagree about other new and contentious issues.
Accordingly, spouses (including former spouses) can attend family mediation:
- Very early on in the initial stages of their separation
- As a last hope effort to resolve a matter just prior to a court trial
- After the court process has completed, if they found the court process was unable to solve all their issues and the conflict between them continues
- Finally, anytime in between and when a legal issue in dispute may arise
While family mediation can take place once the parties have already started litigation (the court process), family mediation is a collaborative process rather than litigious. Most often, the sooner a couple can get into family mediation and avoid any unnecessary and damaging conflict, the better the separating spouses and family will fare.
Family law mediation is a collaborative process which is founded upon the premise that separating couples are the ones who are best equipped to plan and decide the future of themselves and their family. This is facilitated through assisted communication between the parties. When communication is not at its best between a separating couple for any reason, it’s the role of family mediators to facilitate this communication. A South Surrey family mediator at Pier Law & Mediation will help a couple work through their difficult issues by facilitating an environment of collaboration and constructive dialogue.
The benefits of family mediation are many:
COST. Family mediation can be far less costly than litigation, and especially a family law trial, both emotionally and financially. Heated litigation between two parties can go on for years, draining not only the family’s financial resources, but also the family’s emotional stability. The longer the litigation lasts, the greater toll the conflict will have on the family—the parties and the children alike.
GREATER RANGE OF OUTCOMES. In family mediation, the disputing parties have available to them a greater range of outcomes. In court, a judge is bound to the confines of the legislative parameters of the Divorce Act and the Family Law Act for issues such as parenting time and property division. However, in family mediation, with a few exceptions, the parties are free to craft their own path to settlement and define how settlement looks for their family. With the help of our South Surrey family mediator at Pier Law & Mediation, separating couples can craft the Separation Agreement that best suits them.
CONTROL OF THE PROCESS REMAINS WITH THE PARTIES. Court can be unpredictable. In family mediation, control of all-important decisions remains within the hands of the spouses and is not turned over to a third party (i.e., a judge) who knows little to nothing about the spouses and their children.
It is also worth mentioning that more than a few separating couples have found that the ruling of a judge imposed on both parties is not what either party wanted or envisioned for their future. It is entirely possible that a separating spouse will then have to abide by decisions they dislike, for years to come. There is a lot to be said for crafting Separation Agreements that both sides can live with, Separation Agreements that are negotiated with the aid of our Surrey family mediation lawyer at Pier Law & Mediation.
PROTECT THE RELATIONSHIP. Resolving matters through family mediation, rather than the mudslinging, fighting, and escalation of conflict that can occur in litigation, will better protect the relationship of two disputing parties. This is particularly important when two parties have children and will need to continue to co-parent with each other in the future. Things said in the heat of the moment cannot be unsaid later. Bitterness lingers in the air long after apologies have been said (if ever). If you have children, it is worth remembering that you will have to co-parent with your former spouse for many years and will have to be civil with them after the litigation is over.
Family law mediation has many advantages. Parties save time and money and work through their dispute with their ex-spouse collaboratively, utilizing the skills and expertise of the mediator to help navigate and succeed in difficult conversations.
Typically, it is usually only the family mediator, the parties and their lawyers (if the parties are represented) present in a mediation. However, there are times when support people (such a friend or family member) are present in the mediation, with the permission of the other party.
No, you do not need to have a lawyer to attend family mediation. Family mediation is a collaborative process that takes place outside of the more formal court process.
However, it is important that you know your rights and responsibilities under the law if you do choose to attend family mediation. For this reason, we strongly urge you to obtain independent legal advice particularly before attending family mediation and before signing a Separation Agreement.
Even if your mediator is a family lawyer (which is the case at Pier Law & Mediation), as noted, it is the role of your family mediator to remain neutral and unbiased throughout the process.
Accordingly, while your family mediator can provide you with general legal information about family law in BC, your mediator cannot provide you with legal advice. Legal advice must be obtained from your own personal lawyer through independent legal advice.
The cost of family mediation varies according to the needs of the family, the complexity of the legal issues to be resolved and the dynamics between the parties. Your family mediator’s time is charged by the hour and is sometimes paid up front in the form of a retainer.
A typical family law mediation case averages about three to six mediation sessions over the course of a few weeks to a few months depending on the availability of the mediator and the spouses, and the availability of document and information disclosure. Mediation is hard work for the spouses and a typical mediation session usually lasts 2 – 3 hours. Sessions lasting longer than a few hours at one time will tend to bring a decline in productivity of the spouses as the meeting goes on. Notwithstanding these estimates, the time it takes to mediate a successful resolution can be significantly less or significantly more depending on the issues, needs and complexities of each family’s unique situation.
While there are many family mediators in B.C., they are not all the same. Ideally, you want someone who is an expert in Family Law, has a good track record, and is a good fit for your individual needs.
The starting point in choosing a family mediator is first gathering information about the mediator’s knowledge and training. Questions you may wish to ask include:
- Has the mediator been certified by a reputable agency or society?
- What is the nature of any formal training the family mediator has undertaken
- Does the mediator have any special knowledge or expertise in the area or issues you wish to resolve?
At Pier Law & Mediation, our mediator, Kendelle L. Pollitt, has been accredited by the Law Society of BC; has both legal training as a lawyer and mediation training as a mediator; specializes in family law both as a lawyer and mediator; and given the longevity of her experience in family law, likely has experience dealing with a situation similar to yours (or least the legal issues arising from a situation similar to yours).
Once you narrow your list to those family mediators with the requisite knowledge and training, assess what style of mediation you think would best serve your needs. Different family mediators have different styles in running a family mediation. For example:
- Depending on how comfortable you feel communicating directly with your former spouse, the mediator may choose to engage shuttle mediation (where you and you spouse are in different rooms and the mediator goes back and forth between the rooms during the mediation) or the mediator directs the mediation while you and your spouse are both in the same room.
- Most, but not all, family mediators utilize caucusing (private meetings between one party and the mediator) during a mediation session. Caucusing is a tool that serves many purposes such as allowing the mediator to do ‘check ins’ with each party privately after the mediation has gotten underway or to give each party a break from direct interaction with their former spouse.
- Some mediators are more evaluative in their approach (point out weaknesses in a party’s case or make assessments about what a judge would likely do in the circumstances), while others are more facilitative in their approach (assist parties to analyze the issues and explore common interests and options to reach a resolution).
You should know that at Pier Law & Mediation, we take a multi-faceted approach to mediation – we engage the tools and techniques that are appropriate for each situation, and evolve those tools and techniques through-out the mediation process, depending on the needs of the parties.
Finally, the most important factor in choosing a family mediator, is selecting someone with whom you can create a rapport and ultimately trust to assist you and the other party to reach an enduring resolution to your dispute. Often the only way to determine that is to meet the family mediator, or at least chat with them by phone.
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