Here’s how to keep your family mediation costs to a minimum:
- Homework: Complete homework assignments as much as you can before the next session.
- Complete financial disclosure forms ( Net Family Property Statements, Child Expense Schedules and other summaries) as requested by the mediator as soon as possible.
- Documentary backup will usually be requested for assets and liabilities.
- Psychological Support: Obtain whatever psychological counselling and support you need in order for you to focus on the issues in the mediation and to enable you to minimize any conflicts with your spouse.
- Make yourself available for regular mediation meetings (generally every 2 or 3 weeks – or as your schedules permit) in order to deal with the issues efficiently and with a minimum of review.
- Accept the fact that in most cases, your desire to speed up or slow down the process will differ from that of your spouse.
- Don’t speak negatively about your spouse to the children or to anyone else during mediation and hopefully thereafter.
- Courteous and respectful communication is extremely helpful (and cost effective) in reaching an agreement and in establishing effective on-going communication which is essential in an on-going relationship.
- Often, discussions between the spouses between sessions are counterproductive. Direct discussions with your spouse between sessions about mediation issues should take place only if they can be conducted productively and without acrimony. They should be conducted in a public place (ie. restaurant where there is the moderating influence of other people around) and without alcohol. Non-contentious discussions about the children may be necessary and helpful.
- Phone calls between sessions to the mediator are generally not absolutely necessary and can often be dealt with most efficiently at the mdeiation sessions. Save as many questions and comments as you can for the mediation sessions. We do take calls about the process and other concerns as necessary but, generally, these can be dealt with at the sessions themselves.
- Caucusing (1 on 1 discussions between the mediator and a spouse) can often allow productive communication to proceed when face-to-face communication between spouses is counter-productive.
- Independent legal advice is generally recommended but is not necessary in every case – the mediator can help you identify when consulting with a lawyer is advisable.
- When it is advisable, please consult with your lawyer in a timely fashion. Advice and information received from them too late in the process creates unnecessary risks and can seriously jeopardize all the work you have done to that point.
- Maintain contact with your lawyers as you feel necessary and as requested from time to time by the mediator.?
- Wait until you and your spouse have agreed on the form of the written separation agreement before it is provided to the lawyers for their final inspection.
John G. Goodwin
Family Law Lawyer and Mediator
October 9, 2019