Divorce mediation allows parents to focus on their children

This article looks at the benefits of divorce mediation in B.C., especially for parents of young children.

Divorce or separation is almost always an emotionally fraught process. However, in recent years an increasing number of British Columbians have been looking for ways to keep tensions to a minimum during divorce. Following recent legislative changes, for example, mediation has become a popular alternative to litigation, according to the Vancouver Sun. Although mediation is far from a one-size-fits-all solution, it does have the potential to offer divorcing couples a faster, less costly method for divorce. Mediation also tends to be particularly beneficial for parents who want to protect their children from the emotional upheaval that a litigated divorce can sometimes lead to.

Support for mediation

The province's Family Law Act, which was passed in 2013, provides increased support for couples who are looking for ways to divorce or separate without using up court resources. Mediation is one way that allows those couples to keep their dispute largely out of court, while also minimizing the potential for conflict.

In mediation, both parties agree to avoid litigation and to negotiate a settlement with the help of a trained mediator. The mediator, who is often a lawyer, acts as a neutral arbiter between the two parties. While the mediator does not advocate for either party, he or she can help both parties come to an agreement that not only satisfies both parties, but which is also legally enforceable.

Avoiding conflict

As the Victoria Times-Colonist notes, mediation tends to be particularly attractive to divorcing or separating spouses who want to shield their children from witnessing disputes that may arise between their parents during litigation. Because mediation encourages negotiation rather than conflict, it tends to take up far less time and resources than litigation.

However, while mediation certainly has its advantages it is not the right method for everyone. Both parties in a mediation must feel as though they are equals in order to negotiate effectively. If one spouse feels intimidated or overwhelmed by the other spouse, then mediation may not be the best choice. Particularly in relationships where there may have been emotional or physical abuse, then litigation may be a better course for protecting the abused spouse's rights.

Family law help

Anybody going through a divorce or separation should first talk to a family law lawyer to find out about which legal options may work best for their situation. An experienced lawyer can advise clients about what each divorce method, including mediation and litigation, entails and what the advantages and drawbacks of each option are. Furthermore, a lawyer who is well-versed in both mediation and litigation will be in the best position to offer potential clients guidance about how to take the next steps to best protect their family's interests going forward.