Family mediation is a way for couples (married or not) to settle issues arising from a breakup without having to go to court to have the tribunal decide on the outcome of their case for them. An impartial mediator tries to help the parties reach an acceptable agreement on the issues that are submitted (i.e. custody of their children, child support, support payments to one of the married spouses, division of their property, etc.)
However, when the mediator is also a lawyer, it is easy for clients to confuse both titles. It must, however, be known that the mediator cannot give the parties any legal advice.
In fact, the mediator’s role consists of:
1. informing spouses / parents of the applicable laws without giving any legal opinions;
2. making sure both parties have the opportunity to clarify and define the issues to be discussed in mediation, thereby having a chance to explain their needs and wishes;
3. identifying the litigious matters as well as their underlying sources;
4. helping to reduce communication barriers, assuring the parties are respectful with one another and treated equally during the mediation process; and
5. exploring alternative solutions to help spouses / parents find a suitable agreement, while always taking into consideration the children’s best interests.
Sonia Rotondo, Attorney-at-Law
Alepin Gauthier Avocats inc.