Mediation is an approach to solving problems in which a third party (a mediator) helps people with family law problems reach a resolution without going to court. A mediator is a person who is specially trained to help people resolve conflict. Unlike a judge, a mediator doesn't impose solutions on people, but helps them to find their own solutions to their problems.
Some mediators, but not all, are also lawyers. Whether or not the mediator in a family law case is a lawyer, they should have special training about family dynamics and family law issues. Before hiring a mediator, ask about their training and qualifications.
Note that mediators are supposed to be neutral and can't provide legal advice, even if they're also a lawyer.
Private mediators charge for their services. But if you can resolve your issues using mediation, it's generally much less expensive than going to court. Family justice counsellors offer free mediation services to people with low incomes in certain cases.
How do I find a mediator?
You can find mediators in several places:
- The Mediate BC website — contains a list of qualified family mediators and more information about mediation and how it works
- The Family Mediation Canada website — information about qualified family mediators
- A family justice counsellor
- The Lawyer Referral Service
Can I make my spouse attend mediation?
In most cases, mediation is voluntary. That is, both you and the other party have to agree to participate in the mediation.
If you have started a case in Supreme Court, you can take steps to require your spouse to attend a mediation session. You do this by serving your spouse with a document called a Notice to Mediate. See Making mediation happen in a family law case in Supreme Court and How to serve Supreme Court documents (for how to serve the document).
For more information on what mediators do, see:
- Our infographic about mediation,
- The Attorney General's Family Justice website page on mediators, and
- the video clip excerpted from the Continuing Legal Education Society video An Inside Look at Family Mediation.
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