Mediation- Answering Your Questions

WHAT IS MEDIATION? WHAT DOES A MEDIATOR DO?

Mediation is used to come to a peaceful resolution with another party through the whole process of a separation, from start to finish.

The mediator acts an as “independent” and will work with you to find solutions that best fit all parties’ needs. As a neutral third-party process, mediation creates a safe and confidential environment that encourages negotiation, ideas and solutions.

WHEN CAN PEOPLE TURN TO MEDIATION?

Mediation can be used at many stages through a separation, divorce or relationship breakdown—whether, before, during or after.

Mediation is most commonly used for the separation process. For more information about the mediation process visit https://claritydivorce.com/what-is-the-clarity-approach/.

WHAT DOES MEDIATION “LOOK” LIKE?

At Clarity, you both attend a mediation session, where the mediator (a neutral party) will discuss all aspects of your separation. The mediator will help you both in negotiating the terms of your separation, including (but not limited to):

  • Custody and access
  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Division of assets and debts, household items, pension etc.

The mediator will help you both with building an agreement outlining how your separation will proceed, including future decisions. Once everything has been negotiated and agreed upon, the mediator will draft up an agreement. You will both have the opportunity to review the agreement and make changes before signing.

At Clarity, mediation can also be used for parent-child conflicts—for example, if your child or teen is having difficulty dealing with their family situation and needs a third party to help explain their perspective.

WHAT IS A SEPARATION AGREEMENT?

A separation agreement sets out in a legal document many important decisions regarding division of assets, division of debts, child support, and spousal support.

CAN’T WE JUST WRITE OUR OWN SEPARATION AGREEMENT?

You can; however, we very strongly encourage you to involve a professional in the writing of your agreement. Here’s why:

A separation agreement is the single-most important document of the entire separation process. This is the document you will need to follow for the next several years of your life. Therefore, it is important that you both know your rights and what you are entitled to.

Even if you and your spouse are on the same page now, things may change—and you don’t want to end up in a very messy situation later on.

Also, if you do your own agreement, it is not legally binding in court. This may cause several issues for you when trying to divide assets, as not all parties accept self-written agreements (like mortgage brokers and banks etc.).

As such, we very strongly encourage you to involve a professional in the writing of your agreement.

IS MEDIATION GENERALLY SUCCESSFUL?

Yes, in a vast majority of cases, the mediation process does result in the drafting of a mediated separation agreement. While the mediation may take 2-3 sessions, the process carefully moves our clients to a place of “yes”: a scenario where they feel they were heard and that their needs and interests were effectively managed.

WHAT IF I WANT TO SKIP MEDIATION, AND GO STRAIGHT TO HIRING A LAWYER?

We recommend mediation first. It is less expensive, and the process is less time-consuming and less adversarial. Plus, you may be able to find a solution through a mediator, without involving a lawyer at all.

EVEN IF WE USE MEDIATORS, DO WE STILL NEED TO HIRE LAWYERS?

You do not need to hire lawyers; however, you may choose to have your agreement reviewed by a lawyer. We can advise you of your options, based on your unique situation.

CAN WE USE A MEDIATOR TO HELP WITH OUR DIVORCE?

You certainly can. Simply put, a divorce is just paperwork; a lawyer is not necessary for getting a divorce. One of our Clarity professionals can write up the documents on your behalf.

IS MEDIATION EXPENSIVE?

Mediation provides an economically feasible alternative to retaining legal representation.

Also, if you have retained lawyers, but feel they are representing your case inadequately, mediation is a highly sought-after alternative.

If you are unsure if mediation is for you, or for more information contact us here https://claritydivorce.com/


What you should know about Separation and Divorce

What is the difference between Separation and Divorce?

Separation refers to you living separately and apart from your spouse. You are still legally married. (Once you and your spouse decide to separate, you can move forward with the mediation process.) To simplify the separation process includes the following:
  • Living separate and apart for one year
  • Going through the mediation process (or going through litigation AKA court)
  • Completing a legally binding agreement

If you so wish, the courts do not need to be involved in the separation process.

Divorce refers to paperwork you file with the court to receive a legal divorce.

What do I need for a separation?

During your initial consultation your mediator will advise you are to what you will need for your specific situation. Generally, all financial information is necessary including but not limited to:

  • Notice of assessments
  • Pension valuations
  • All assets
  • All debts
  • Property values
  • Bank account information
  • Savings account information
  • Credit card information
  • Line of credit information
  • RREP or RESP information
  • Investment information

Do I need a lawyer?

The short answer is no. There are ma ny separations that take place without the use of a lawyer. Once the agreement is complete you do have the option of each visiting a lawyer for Independent Legal Advice (ILA). Clarity works with a network of lawyers who's mandate is aligned with our own.

What do I need for a divorce?

At Clarity we have made the divorce process simple for you. We provide you with a document that you each fill out and return to us. In addition to the form we will need your original marriage certificate. Once we receive those two documents we take care of everything from there.

What if we argue or do not agree on certain aspects of our separation?

That’s ok! This is exactly what we are here for. Our mediators are trained to work with you whether is conflict or not. Clarity has successfully mediated some of the most adversarial and controversial cases to full agreements. As long as you and your spouse are willing to following the process, there is a good chance we can get you through it.

Do I need a divorce?

If you wish to no longer be legally married to your spouse, you will need to file the paperwork for a divorce. (We can help you with that.)

For more information about separation and divorce visit https://claritydivorce.com/separation-and-divorce/

Separation and Divorce Services

What is the Clarity Approach?

Clarity is here to help simplify things for you—and hopefully, remove some of your burden.

Our mediation specialists offer support and guidance including:

  • Helping you understand your legal rights and responsibilities
  • Developing legal agreements (regarding custody, division of assets, and more)
  • Filing paperwork on your behalf
  • Identifying ways you and your spouse can both move forward—in the most cost-effective and emotionally healthy way possible
  • Ultimately, Clarity’s goal is to help keep you both out of the courtroom (which can be very costly). Mediation can help ensure all parties come out successful on the other side of a separation or divorce—without going through litigation.

At Clarity we believe that the process of separation can be simple, quick, and far less expensive that the alternatives. We work with you towards your goals so that you come out of the other side with your finances, emotions, and dignity still intact.

What makes us different?

Clarity uses a simple team approach to make sure that all aspects of the separation are taken into consideration. We work with YOU as part of our team to ensure that both parties move in the direction or positivity and equality.

What is the Clarity Process?

With Clarity, it is simple. Here how we structure our mediation services to best serve you.

Mediation is the process by which a Mediator works with you both to negotiate the terms of your separation and produces a legally binding document outlining those negotiations and agreements. Mediation is much more time and cost effective than the alternative of litigation (where you would each retain a lawyer).

 STEP #1. Individual Consultations.

This is the first step where you both schedule a consultation individually. This gives each of you the opportunity to meet with the mediator and discuss any potential issues, ask questions, address any concerns and understand the process.

This is of great benefit as it does assist the mediation process to go somewhat smoother as the mediator has to opportunity to assess where the potential difficulties may arise and where the triggers may cause conflict.

In addition, during your consultation your mediator will discuss any forms or information that they may need for the process. Once you have completed the consultations you will then move into the mediation process. There is a one-time fee each for the consultations.

STEP #2. Mediation.

Once you have completed your consultations the mediator will then schedule your mediation. With mediation, you would both attend the session where the mediator will discuss all aspects of your separation. The mediator will assist you both in negotiating the terms of your separation including but not limited to custody, access, child support, spousal support, division of assets and debts, household items, pension divisions and so on.

Mediation is charged by the hour and will take as long as is necessary for all avenues of the separation to be negotiated and agreed upon.

The mediator will be able to assist you both with building an agreement that will outline how your separation will proceed including future decisions. Once everything has been negotiated and agreed upon the mediator will draft up an agreement. You will have the opportunity to review the agreement and make changes.

In addition, you will be given the opportunity to seek independent legal advice (ILA) if you so wish but this is not entirely necessary. Once the agreement is complete all parties will sign it and that completes the process. You are now legally separated, but not divorced.

To learn the difference between separation and divorce click here: https://claritydivorce.com/what-you-should-know-about-separation-and-divorce/

 


Getting Through the Holidays After Divorce

Your first Holiday season newly divorce can be very difficult for you, your children, and even your ex. Emotions are on the rise, traditions will be different, and certain members of the family will be absent. There are so many variables and moving parts during the holidays that it makes preparing difficult. Emotions that you thought you were over, come flooding back, your children are expressing more difficulty or sadness. It is important to know that you are not alone, and you are experiencing a stage of post-divorce that most families go through.

Knowing how difficult this time can be, we have put together a few tips for you.

  1. PLAN: Having a clear plan of who will have the children when and where everyone will be is extremely important. When the children are aware of what will be happening it reduces anxiety and everyone feels better when there is a plan!
  2. Be FLEXIBLE: Just as much as having a plan is important it is also important to be somewhat flexible. We all know how crazy everything can get around the Holidays, just go with the flow.
  3. BE PATIENT: Be patient with yourself and with your children. Whatever emotions come up, let them, validate them, and process them. Do the same with your children. Know that what each of you are going through is ok, its normal, and you will get through it.
  4. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH LOVE AND SUPPORT: Get together with friends and family, with people who love you and want to be there for you. Being alone on the holidays can magnify the difficulties, let people hold you up and support you and your family.
  5. MAKE NEW TRADITIONS: It is hard to let go. To let go of the past, of the could haves, should haves, and what could have been. Grieving the loss of the family as it was and letting go of the old traditions of the way things were can be very difficult. Focus on the new. Create new traditions, think of things that you have always wanted to incorporate, get the children involved, and make it your own.
  6. COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS: Tony Robbins states that anger, blame, and sadness cannot exist while we are in a state of gratitude. Be grateful for what you DO have and not what your feel you have lost. Write a list of everything to be grateful for, do it as a family and put it on your fridge. Do it daily or weekly or whenever you need a pick-me-up. You can never be too grateful.
  7. MAKE A NEW YEARS RESOLUTION: Leave last year in the dust and make a New Year’s resolution for you and your family. Setting goals can me motivating and inspirational. Create a step by step plan on how you are going to get to where you want to be. Do you want to work on yourself? Find a workshop. Do you want to be healthier? Find a gym or program. Do you want to have a better relationship with your children? Hire a professional. There are always answers and there is always a way to get you to where you want to be!

If you are struggling through the holidays, if you need a plan for the holidays, if you need support or want to work on your goals…. We can help! Contact us today to find out what we can do for you.


Meet our Mediators: Diane Valiquette

What is your background?

I have extensive training in alternative modalities with regards to relationships. I also have training in Collaborative Law and Mediation. In addition to that, I trained under Dr. Bruce Fisher who is the author or the Rebuilding When Your Relationship Ends and Founder of the Fisher Institute in Colorado. I went to Colorado to train specifically with him and to learn about rebuilding after divorce. I have been teaching the Rebuilding for over 20 years and mediating for over 10 years.

What made you want to become a mediator?

Well there are three reasons. One reason was when I was going through my own divorce it was very difficult. I was a single mother to two little children and I was I hitting rock bottom. I was devastated and hurt. I noticed that I had to go to all these different places for different services for myself and my daughters. The lawyer’s office downtown, counselling for myself in one place, counselling for my children in another. I also noticed that mediation was not promoted and it was not as readily available as it is today. So many people go right to a lawyer’s office because they believe that that is the only option.

The second reason was when I started teaching the Rebuilding Workshop I noticed that so many people did not know about mediation and did not know where to find the resources. It was at that time that I wanted to create the Separation & Divorce Resource Centre where people could find everything they needed under one roof.

The third reason was for the children. Children so often get lost in the shuffle of divorce and get plowed over by the Family Law System. Families get torn apart and so much anger and hate come from the battles in the court room. I believe that through mediation we can help families to separate in a much more respectful and caring way so that we can minimize the amount of hate and anger that follows. If we are able to do that then co-parenting is much easier and the children so not suffer as much.

What should people know about you?

I’m a straight shooter and anyone who knows me knows that I get right down to business. This translates to my mediation and my teaching because I don’t like to waste time and drag things on. I like to help people to help themselves and I like to do it in the most efficient way possible. People don’t need to be tied up in their separation process for months and years. Another thing people should know is that I am extremely child focused with everything that I do but especially with mediation. The children in any case are always my priority.

How do you feel the SDRC is different?

Our mandate is to help our clients in the most time and cost effective way possible. We want to get results, therefore we tend to stay away from long drawn out processes that often leave people with high bills and wasted time. Our clients can generally go through the mediation process and have their agreement within 1-2 months depending on the case.

What do you wish people knew about mediation?

I wish people knew that it was not as complicated as it seems and that if they can just work together somewhat then we can have results. I wish people knew how much better it was for children that they work together and figure out a way to do this all amicably. I wish people knew that you don’t have to spend thousands and thousands on lawyers’ fees and that it does not have to be so adversarial.

How do you think people can prepare for mediation?

I usually recommend that people bring with them anything pertaining to their financials such as most recent Notice of Assessments, mortgages, car loans, anything to do with any debts or assets. After our first meeting I have a better of idea of there is anything else that I need.

If you could tell the people who are just separating one thing what would it be?

There is a better way. There is a holistic approach. You can get through it without the fighting, the lawyers, the back and forth and the courts. I wish people knew that often it is not the divorce that causes the most impact on the children but the way the divorce is handled.


Tara Vargas Nicol

Meet Our Mediators: Tara Vargas

What is your background?

I graduated University of Ottawa with a B.A. in Social Sciences, Honors in Criminology and Political Science. I completed graduate studies with the Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution with designations in: Mediation, Negotiation, Third Party Neutral training, Deep-rooted conflict (family and community), Behavioral Analysis . I later went on to work as a corporate mediator  for a learning centre. After, going through my own personal marriage breakdown I decided to focus my attention on Family Law Mediation and completed the required Family Law training.  I am currently a member of ADRIO (Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario) and continue to grow my Divorce Mediation Practice with the SDRC.

What made you want to become a mediator?

I have a passion for resolving conflict in a peaceful way.  I believe that the root of all conflict is mis-understanding and lack of communication around individual deep-rooted needs.  I feel that if people have a safe environment to speak their needs that conflict can be resolved.  I like to focus on the solution not the problem.  In family matters I believe that families can learn to move forward after relationship breakdown and live happy, fulfilled lives once they learn appropriate ways to communicate.

Why did you chose the SDRC?

The philosophy of the SDRC resonated with me because after going through my own personal marriage breakdown, I realized how lonely the process was.  I didn’t know who to turn to and where to look for sound advice.  I needed help not only with navigating through the multitude of learning my legal rights, but also through the pain of separation.  The SDRC embraces the philosophy of supporting individuals through all stages of breakdown, from therapy, to relationship rebuilding, to mediation and after-care.  Divorce does not break people, how it is handled does.  I feel the SDRC is the best place for me to conduct my practice and be able to carry through my passion to help others thrive not just survive the trauma of relationship breakdown.

What do you wish people knew about mediation?

Mediation is a vehicle to effectively resolve matters.  It allows individuals to deal with issues and come out with a collaborative solution that is fair to all parties.  It allows the parties to have more control over the outcome as they are active participants in the process instead of being passive participants in the traditional legal forum.  Mediation takes an already adversarial situation and neutralizes it so that a fair resolution can be agreed on.

How do you think people can prepare for mediation?

Clients can begin by writing down what the conflict is about, how they are feeling currently about it, what concerns they have going into mediation, and what is the potential outcome they would want from mediation.


17 Tips For Successful Co-Parenting

Co-Parenting with EX can be extremely difficult for some and seamless for others. This is not how you pictured it, this not what you wanted, and it is not ideal…. But there are ways that you can make co-parenting work for you in the best interested of your children. Remember this is someone that YOU chose to have children with and this is their other parent.

Here are 17 tips for successful co-parenting:

  1. Have a plan: Having a very clear parenting plan at the get go of your separation can solve many many current and future issues that may arise. A clear parenting plan can set out an access schedule, a holiday schedule, and summer vacation schedule which takes away all of the guess work. In addition, a clear parenting plan will outline strategies for when one of you cannot care for the children on your time, and any other information you wish to have outlined. When a clear parenting plan is set out there are no questions and it makes everything predictable.
  2. Be empathetic: It can be very difficult to show empathy for your ex. Maybe they have hurt you in the past, or they have caused a lot of conflict for you. Practicing empathy with the other parent as well as with your children is an imperative aspect of successful co-parenting. Keeping in mind that everyone is doing the best they can with what they know.
  3. Go to the source: If the children are talking about the other parent listen, but listen not to be critical of the other parent. If the children share something that is concerning, go to the source. Talk to the other parent, clarify the situation and come to an understanding.
  4. Be flexible: Yes, plans are extremely important for successful co-parenting, but flexibility is also important. Life doesn’t always go as planned and we need to able to adapt and improve when the time comes.
  5. Listen and hear: There is a big difference between listening and hearing. When your children or the other parent is talking about their difficulties, hear them, take in what they are saying and try to see things from their perspective. When you do this you are able to garnish more compassion and understanding for the other person that is sharing.
  6. Pick your battles: Not everything is worth fighting over. Pick and choose which battles are important for you to become involved with. Know that you and your ex probably have different parenting styles and that is ok. If you lived with each other you would still have different parenting styles, that doesn’t necessarily mean the other parent is wrong.
  7. Stay on the same page: It is important that you and your ex are on the same page about the big stuff. You may see things differently sometimes and you may disagree about certain aspect of parenting, but being on the same page about the big stuff will save a lot of arguments.
  8. Practice mutual respect: Practicing mutual respect is difficult in many households. But it is important that you remember that your ex was once someone you had feelings for and respected. When you hear things that trigger you, wait to deal with it until you can do it respectfully. Treat them the way you would want to be treated, even if it is very difficult at times.
  9. Keep the children out of it: The children don’t need to know everything about every decision, they don’t need to be the go between, and they certainly don’t need to be involved in any conflict or disagreements between you and the other parent. Have a clause in your parenting agreement about how to handle conflict when you and the other parent disagree.
  10. Encourage children to address the other parent: When the children come home and express issues they are having with the other parent, encourage them to discuss this with that parent. Help them to understand that it is important for them to talk with the other parent and clear up their difficulties with them.
  11. Keep exchanges short and to the point: Keeping things short and to the point helps to minimize the amount of conflict that could arise from triggers or emotions.
  12. Share accomplishments, pictures, and other information: Sharing in the positives when one parent cannot be there is very important. It shows the children that you are on the same page, that you are inclusive, and that the other parent is an important part of their lives.
  13. Keep your thoughts to yourself: Don’t speak poorly about the other parent in front of or around your children. They will hear you.
  14. Enjoy your time: Enjoy the time to yourself. Do things for you. When you do this, you focus less on what your children are doing with the other parent and focus more on yourself. Giving yourself the opportunity to recharge will not only benefit you but also your children because then you can be the best parent you can be.
  15. Don’t sweat the small stuff: Hearing about the other parent’s decisions, parenting style, or anything else can sometimes be a trigger and cause irritation or aggravation inside of you. Unless it is big enough that you feel you need to step in, let it go. Being irritated or aggravated over things that you cannot control only wastes your energy.
  16. Let go of the “my stuff, your stuff”: When the children have something, allow it to be THEIR stuff. Having stuff at mom’s and stuff at dad’s that cannot be brought to the other home can be stressful. This makes children feel as though things from your house are not welcomed at the other parent’s and vice versa.
  17. Forgive: Forgiveness is not always easy. Forgiving the other party can free you from negativity, from judgement, and from draining your energy on something you cannot change. Forgive them for you and for you children. Release yourself of the judgement of the other parent, be you, let them be them and come to a place of acceptance.

Divorce Mediator Vs. Divorce Lawyer. What you need to know.

Believe it or not, this is one of the most important decision you will make during your separation process. Depending on which one you chose can determine the cost, longevity, and emotional output of your divorce proceedings. Here is some information you need to know when making this important decision.

Table from http://modernfamilymediation.org

If you are unsure if you need a lawyer or a mediator, give us a call. At the SDRC we have both mediators and lawyers who work with you for the best outcome for you and your family. Contact us below or give us a call at 613-837-9025.


Avoid using your Children as Pawns in your Divorce

Too many adults divorce because they fail to effectively communicate with each other. They still have to remain in contact with each other though due to the children they have results from that marriage. It is very important to avoid using your children as pawns in your divorce though. Too many people do it, and the children are the ones that suffer for it.

Keeping the children from seeing their other parent as a way to get back at them for the hurt they have put you through is common. That is a way that many divorced couples punish each other. Yet the children are the ones who suffer from it because they are missing out on that relationship. Unless the other parent isn’t fit to have the children alone then you need to let them go at the set visitation times.

Many children do miss the other parent when they are staying with one. This can hurt the parent they are with. Yet it is important to understand that children have unconditional love for both of their parents all the time. Allowing the children to call the other parent when they miss them or even as a standard ritual before bed can help to relieve their anxiety. It will also allow them to enjoy their time with each parent more.

While children do need to know what is going on as far as the divorce is concerned, they don’t need to know all of the details. Important issues that have to be discussed between the parents should be done privately. Remember that little ears can hear a great deal so make sure they aren’t even around when you are talking about sensitive issues.

When issues arise that involve your children you will need to work together to resolve them. When the parents are offering the opposite solution just to be difficult it only hurts the child more. For example if you have a high school student that has been cutting school you need to come up with a course of action to make them responsible. If one parent thinks it is a big deal and the other parent doesn’t mind then it become an ongoing issue.

Children of divorced parents are going to follow the guidelines of the parent that is in their favor on set issues. I guess you could say it is one of the few perks that children of divorces couples are able to exercise. Yet this can lead to many more issues down the road. So instead of using the children to drive your ex spouse crazy find ways to work as a team to do what is in the best interest of your children.

Never under any circumstances should you be passing messages to your ex spouse through your children. That isn’t their responsibility and too often these children are being told to say things they don’t want to repeat. You also don’t want to be asking your children for information when they return from a visit.

It is fine to ask them what they did and if they had a good time. However, you will be overstepping the boundaries if you are asking specific questions. They shouldn’t have to tell you what was said, who was around, and other details of their time together with the other parent.

If you are having a hard time coming to terms with your divorce, seek professional counseling. You will be able to work through your emotions and set goals for your future. You don’t want to dwell on what has taken place or suppress your feelings. You want to be able to have a good life and to be there for your children in a positive way. Make sure you always stop to consider how our actions are going to affect your children before you engage in them.


Divorce…Where Do I Start?

Perhaps you have made the decision that you are wanting to separate, or maybe you haven’t completely decided yet. Perhaps your spouse has left or made the decision that they don’t want to be a part of the marriage anymore. No matter the situation, knowing where to start can be the hardest part. There is so much contradicting information out there, some of it false some of it accurate. Who do you trust? Your friends and family are telling you one thing, the internet is saying something else.

At the SDRC we like to keep things simple. The best place to start is a consultation.

What is a consultation: This is a one-on-one meeting with one of our mediators who will sit with you alone to discuss your case. They will talk to you about what is happening, what has been happening, what your expectations are, and what you are struggling with. Once they have all of the information, they will assist you in coming up with a clear road map to move forward in the most cost effective, and least emotionally draining way possible for you and your family.

What is road map? A road map for us is clear a path and a step by step way to support you through the process. Whether your spouse wants to participate in an amicable separation or not, we can help you navigate the family law system.

What additional resources do you have? If your case is highly adversarial, we can still help! We work closely with our lawyers and team members to assist in resolving very difficult cases. During your consultation our mediators will be able to assess what resources, if any that your case requires. From there we work with you as a support through the entire process. With us you are never alone.

If you or someone you know is separating and doesn’t know what to do, leave us a message below and we will be there to help.