Mediation is a way to try to solve problems without going to court. A mediator is a person who's specially trained to help people settle conflicts.
A mediator has to have special training, but they can't make you do things the way a judge can. Their job is to help you find your own solutions to your problems. Some mediators are also lawyers.
- can't take sides with you or your spouse, and
- can't give you legal advice, even if they're a lawyer.
For a family law case, you'll need a mediator who knows about family law.
Whether or not they're a lawyer, a mediator must:
- have special training in family law issues and how families work, and
- be legally qualified (see Part 3 of the Family Law Act Regulation).
Before you start to work with a mediator, ask about their training and qualifications.
You have to pay private mediators, but it's still usually much cheaper than going to court.
Family justice counsellors offer free mediation services.
If you live in the South Peace Region, you can use the Northern Navigator Initiative.
Here are some ways to find out more about what mediators do:
- Look at our infographic about mediation.
- Read the Mediators page on the BC government's Family Justice website.
- Watch the below video from An Inside Look at Family Mediation from the Continuing Legal Education Society.
How do you find a mediator?
Here are a few ways to find a mediator:
- If you know someone who used a mediator and was happy with them, ask for the mediator's name and contact information.
- Mediate BC has a list of qualified family mediators and more information about mediation and how it works.
- Family Mediation Canada has lots of information about qualified family mediators.
- The Lawyer Referral Service can give you the name of a lawyer who is also trained as a mediator who'll talk with you for $25 plus tax for the first half-hour.
- MyLawBC's Family Resolution Centre can provide you with a free mediator to help you and your ex-spouse to write a parenting plan online.
- Type "family mediator" and the name of your area into an online search engine.
Can you make your spouse go to mediation?
Mediation is usually voluntary. You and the other person agree to go.
But if one person isn't keen, a judge can order you to try mediation.
And, if you've started a case in Supreme Court, you can serve your spouse with a document called a Notice to Mediate that says they have to go to mediation.
See Making mediation happen in a family law case in Supreme Court to find out more about this.