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.
- Read the Mediators page on the BC government's Family Justice website.
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. Find out about their free monthly online clinics.
- 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 15 minutes. This meeting is free.
- At the Richmond and Robson Square Provincial Courthouses, the judge may offer you up to four hours of free mediation if you qualify. See the eNews article on the Provincial Court of BC website.
- 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.
Clare hears how a mediator can help her and her ex settle their issues, in our illustrated short story, Talking it through.