What is Parenting Mediation?

Parenting Mediation is a process, offering parents who are separated or contemplating separation with the opportunity to negotiate mutually agreeable parenting arrangements for their children. Parents with an existing parenting plan, separation agreement or court order may also benefit from this process if they are in conflict over existing arrangements and/or their children have "outgrown" existing agreements.

How does the referral process for Parenting Mediation work?

Individuals may contact me directly, requesting Parenting Mediation, or lawyers may contact me on behalf of their clients.  I am happy to provide 15 minutes of my time, free of charge, by telephone to answer any general questions about the process; however, I ask parents to avoid giving me detailed information about their specific case, until and unless both parties have committed to the mediation process. 

Do I need a lawyer?  If so, what is his/her role in the mediation process?

Although you are not required to have a lawyer to attend Parenting Mediation, it is wise for each of you to consult with your own lawyer who specializes in Family Law, before starting the mediation process.  If you wish, you can attend mediation with your lawyers present.  Although most parents choose not to involve their lawyers at the mediation sessions, in some cases, the presence of lawyers may be quite helpful to the process.  Once a Parenting Plan/Agreement is drafted, I advise the parents to consult with their lawyers before signing.  If there is an existing Separation Agreement, the Parenting Plan is generally attached to it.

How Does the Mediation Process Work?  What can I expect? 

Individual/Intake Session:

Once both parties have contacted me and indicated a willingness to proceed with mediation, I book an individual session with each.  The main purpose of this session is to determine whether mediation is a suitable process.  During this initial session, I also go over the mediation contract (see Closed Mediation Services) and answer any questions regarding the Contract and process.  As well, I review relevant documents, such as existing Parenting Agreements/Plans, or Court Orders.

It is important for me to be assured that both parents feel safe and are safe in each other’s presence.  Any concerns/anxiety you may each have about meeting jointly are addressed, and a determination is made regarding joint or separate meetings.  No parent will be required to attend a joint mediation session if he/she is not comfortable doing so.

If it is determined that Parenting Mediation is not a suitable option, the mediation may not proceed after this point.  Under these circumstances, I may refer the parents to other relevant services. 

Signing of Mediation Agreement:

Following the parents’ individual sessions with me, the next step is to sign the Mediation Contract (see Closed Mediation Services).  Although parents are entitled to withdraw from the mediation process at any time, they are nevertheless asked to commit to the process, by signing the Mediation Contract, which outlines their responsibilities, as well as that of the Mediator. 

First Joint Mediation Session:

During the first joint session, after areas of conflict are identified, an agenda will be drafted and goals will be set.  Both parents will be presented with the rules of appropriate conduct during the mediation process.  Areas of conflict may include, decision-making for children, i.e. how major parenting decisions are made, schedules for time children spend with each parent, holidays, special days, schooling, day care, extra curricular activities, as well as any other issues which may be relevant to parenting.  During this first session, I may go into some detail about what led to the particular conflicts, to enable me to gain insight into the nature of the conflict, as well as the particular issues over which the parents disagree.

The Written Agreement:

Most parents would like to leave the Parenting Mediation process with a written agreement, or an amendment to an existing agreement.  The drafting of the Agreement is a process, which generally begins with the resolution of the issues over which there is least amount of conflict, gradually progressing to the more challenging ones.  As the issues get addressed and resolved, the content of the written agreement is developed.  A successful mediation process not only results in a Parenting Agreement, or amendment to an agreement, but also provides the parents with tools/skills to make future decisions about their child(ren) independently or with minimal assistance.

How many sessions will we need for Parenting Mediation?

This depends very much on the situation and on circumstances.  Factors which may influence the number of sessions are, the age and number of children, the level of conflict between the parties, the types of issues that are causing conflict, as well as specific goals the parents may have.  Although most parents would like to solve their conflicts and leave the mediation process with a written Parenting Agreement, others who have been separated for some years, may already have a Parenting Agreement, and may be attending Parenting Mediation sessions to resolve new conflicts, such as choice of school, extra curricular activities, or other challenges.

At times, parents may attend 2 or 3 sessions and entirely solve their conflicts. Others attend several sessions, and still others may not reach any agreement at all. After the parties have had their individual session and one or two joint sessions, it generally becomes clearer as to how long it may take to reach an agreement.

When mediation does not lead to resolution, this reality is discussed, so that the parties can consider alternative options and determine their next steps.

I know that he/she will be on her/his best behaviour in front of you.  He/she will lie and I’m afraid she/he will manipulate you.  How will you handle that?

Most parents who attend Parenting Mediation do try to conduct themselves appropriately in front of the mediator.  This may be very annoying and upsetting to a parent who has experienced things differently, and who would like me to witness his/her negative experience, in order to validate/understand what they have been through.  I am fully aware that parents generally conduct themselves differently in front of me.  The goal is to move the parties forward and develop a functional and long-lasting co-parent relationship. 

Will our children be interviewed?

If the parents are able to resolve their conflicts, I generally do not interview a child.  If they reach an impasse, however, I might consider seeking collateral information, through consultation with the child’s therapist, day care provider or significant other person.  I may interview the child(ren) to obtain his/her “input”.  The purpose of the interview, and the approach I take with child(ren) are thoroughly discussed with the parents prior to such interview taking place.  I may also interview the child on more than one occasion.   Generally speaking, children under the age of 8 are not interviewed, although I have interviewed a child as young as 6 years old. 

Do we have to be married to attend Parenting Mediation?

Parenting Mediation is a process which provides parents who are separated or contemplating separation with the opportunity to negotiate mutually agreeable parenting arrangements for their children, regardless of whether they are married and/or whether they ever resided together. 

Is Sexual Orientation a factor?

All parents, regardless of sexual orientation, who are separated or contemplating separation are welcome to attend parenting mediation if they need help in resolving their parenting disputes.  Sexual orientation only becomes a factor to the extent of specific related issues presenting themselves as a challenge to the parent(s) or child(ren). Then those problems will be addressed, just as any other issue would be. 

What is your hourly rate?

Please call me to discuss.

Are your services covered by insurance?

Some insurance companies do seem to cover parenting mediation.  When checking your plan, if your coverage includes services provided by a registered social worker, then mediation may be covered.  While I am ultimately not responsible for whether you are covered, I do my best to increase your chances of successful re-imbursement by answering any questions your insurer may have.  Please note that all services must be paid in full before I issue a receipt.