“Mediation and other forms of alternate dispute resolution are greatly encouraged in family matters because disposition of family disputes often occurs more quickly with less cost to the parties and to the justice system as a whole. Further, because parties fashion solutions to the problems they face with the help of an experienced mediator, parties are more satisfied with the solutions they reach. As discussed below, the FLA (section 4) specifically sets out principles in support of alternate dispute resolution in family matters.”
THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE BALL, KERTCHER V. KERTCHER, 2016 BCSC 1718
Family mediation is a process in which those involved in the restructuring of a family, retain an impartial third party to help work through their unresolved issues and points of conflict and to assist them to craft durable solutions which are best for their family. Conflict within the family can occur for many different reasons; most commonly it results from a significant change in the family system, such as new marriages and blending families, separating or divorcing parents, estate planning, the loss of a loved one, or a change in elder parental care.
Arlene has been mediating family matters with care and attention for 20 years. Working primarily in joint session she is able to assist the parties to better communicate with one another and to provide clarity that might not otherwise be realized by those caught in the emotional complexities of their conflict. Through the mediation process, Arlene conducts confidential pre-mediation interviews with everyone involved to prepare them for the mediation and to better understand all points of view, before working diligently with the parties to identify options for resolution. When compared to the court system, family mediation is generally less expensive, more private and more supportive of the exploration of a wider range of creative solutions. The family mediation process won’t impose a resolution on a family, but rather it will help them work together toward an outcome that best suits their unique circumstances.
If you are considering family mediation, please first speak with a lawyer. Your lawyer will help you understand the relevant laws in BC and your rights and your obligations with respect to your family. This will help to ensure that you will be negotiating in the mediations session from a fully informed position.
What to Expect
A key step in any mediation is the selection of a mediator. There are no certification programs for mediators that are recognized everywhere. Mediators come from many different backgrounds.
Before hiring a mediator, you should ask for information about their training and experience. It’s a good idea to ask for résumés and references and to contact more than one mediator before making a decision.
The mediator must not have any personal or business relationship with anyone in the dispute. While it is often helpful, it is not necessary for the mediator to be expert in the subject matter of the dispute.
The mediator shapes the process while the parties control the outcome. The mediator:
- Manages and structures negotiations
- Establishes rules for conduct
- Keeps communication open and discussions on track
- Is a sounding board, innovator and reality tester
Mediators assist with developing ideas for resolution. They do not control the process because it is parties to the dispute who are most able to recognize a workable solution.
Mediators will not usually suggest that a party compromise. Instead, they will encourage settlement, ensure that proposals are tested and make certain parties understand the consequences of walking away from a possible settlement.
Read more about the Mediation Process.
As for Ms. Henry…there are no adequate words to express my gratefulness to her. Rarely have I met an individual with so much energy, professionalism, and humanity.
Just wanted to thank you for all the hard work and extraordinary effort you put in today to help us come up with a workable resolution. . . without your help and guidance we could not have achieved what we accomplished today.
Family Law Lawyer
Thanks for your kind assistance yesterday…seems to me we all did a good job for these parents.
Arlene, just a note to say thanks again for your terrific guidance and help yesterday. I think my client was quite pleased with the way the process unfolded, and the manner in which you handled us all . . . I get a big kick out of seeing these cases resolved in such a friendly and dignified way. I look forward to our next opportunity to work together.
Family Law Lawyer
Director, MCFD | Mediation participant
Arlene, . . . I wanted to tell you just how much I appreciated your work on this. I had only the slimmest of hopes for a positive outcome but I think the resolution we reached was very constructive and beneficial for “M”. I credit your exceptional skill and sensitivity (and your persistence and your hard work!).
Former School Principal | Mediation participant
It was also a pleasure for me to have met you and worked together through [this] mediation. From [our] point of view, this was a necessary and invaluable process. You were exactly the right person for the job and I want to thank you for a job well done. You have superb skills, and it is credit to you that <child>’s transition back into the school system has gone so smoothly.
I want to thank you for leading us through that very difficult process. It is because of our team effort, under your great leadership, that I believe to be the reason for <child>’s successful transition back into our school.
School Principal | Mediation participant
Thanks Arlene – it was great to work with you and to see why you have such a good reputation! I look forward to another opportunity
MCFD Team Leader
Arlene is an excellent mediator . . . she is very knowledgeable; calm and relaxed and yet energetic
Arlene has been very respectful of everyone’s point of view, as well as assuring everyone remains in a safe place. She did a great job of connecting with the participants prior to the mediation and remaining respectful. Arlene has a wonderful management style; she brings the parties back on track without them realizing that a change in their focus has been made.
First of all, I wanted to thank you for your assistance at the mediation . . . I thought you were a strong facilitator which I appreciated. . . I look forward to working with you again!
I just want to say thanks for Friday. Doing that mediation was great! That was my first one, and it was nice to see the benefits that can come of it right away. Even though I know that not all of them end up with an agreement, it’s good to see the possibilities that can arise from it.
Thank you for your help; you are very talented and skilled.
Arlene, it was a pleasure and a privilege to meet you. I thought you did an excellent job at the mediation. I look forward to working with you again.
I am looking forward to future mediations with you Arlene and I want to thank you personally for going the extra mile in more ways than one on this one.