Whether you are thinking of preparing a Cohabitation Agreement, a Marriage Contract (prenup) or you are going through a separation, mediation could be the best option for you to reach an agreement in a cost-effective and amicable manner.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process that allows parties to reach their own agreement with the assistance of a neutral third-party who facilitates discussions and negotiation. The mediator is jointly selected and jointly retained by both parties, however, one or both party(ies) can decide to withdraw from the process at any time. Another key component of mediation is that it allows the parties to have more control over their outcome and desired result. In terms of costs, the process is often less costly than the alternative, where both parties retain their own independent legal counsel to negotiate an Agreement. This being said, parties can still retain their own independent legal counsel to review an Agreement or provide them with legal advice throughout the process and/or prior to signing an Agreement.
What is the mediator’s role?
The mediator’s role is to guide the parties’ negotiations, facilitate communication, provide legal information and explain legal concepts. The mediator does not provide legal advice to the parties and does not decide on the outcome.
If the parties do not reach an agreement during mediation, nothing discussed in mediation is binding and the process will remain confidential. This means that nothing discussed in the context of mediation will find its way in a Court proceeding, for example. For mediation to be successful, however, the parties need to be willing to negotiate and reach a settlement. If one party does not negotiate in good faith or refuses to participate, mediation is likely not the best option. There are other factors that are important to consider when deciding if mediation is the right avenue such as power imbalances and the presence of domestic violence. In some cases, mediation may not be the appropriate avenue for you.
In summary, mediation allows parties to discuss a wide variety of subject matters in a cost-effective and less conflictual manner than in typical counsel-assisted negotiations or through Court proceedings and provides parties with more control over the desired outcome. Virtual mediation is also available through the use of secure online platforms. If you are interested in mediation and would like to know whether this process is right for you, our team at Sicotte Guilbault LLP can help.