Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. In the context of family law, the purpose of mediation is to help couples resolve issues arising from their separation – such as custody, parenting arrangements, child support, spousal support and division of property – and create a separation agreement without the added stress, time and expense of going to court.

Divorcing couples often choose mediation because it is less adversarial than litigation. Mediation also offers greater privacy, and it enables families to control the outcome and final decisions of the separation process. You can create a unique, personalized separation agreement rather than accept a cookie-cutter agreement from a court.

Mediators are neutral; they do not take sides. Having a mediator present can help you and your spouse hold respectful, productive discussions and resolve disputes.

Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process. Before the mediation process can begin, both spouses must agree to participate and sign an agreement to that effect. No one can be forced to take part.

What does a mediator do?

A mediator is trained to help you and your spouse talk to each other, ensure that both of your views are heard, and help you come to a resolution that is best for your particular situation. Mediators also provide a safe, neutral space to have difficult conversations.

Mediators do not make decisions, take sides or pressure anyone to agree. They also cannot provide independent legal advice – you will need a lawyer for that.

Are mediators always lawyers?

No. Mediators can be lawyers, social workers and other professionals who have taken the required training to learn mediation skills and become accredited.

Do mediators replace lawyers in the divorce process?

No. It is highly recommended, but not required, that you and your spouse obtain separate family law lawyers to provide you with independent legal advice about the terms of the separation agreement. Your mediator cannot serve as a lawyer for either you or your spouse, as a mediator will not be able to give you legal advice.

What’s the difference between mediation and a collaborative divorce?

A collaborative divorce is another type of alternative dispute resolution. You and your spouse would each hire a collaborative law lawyer, and the lawyers would help you resolve your legal issues and negotiate a separation agreement.

Learn more about collaborative law.

To learn more about mediation or collaborative divorces, or to book a consultation at Gotal Family Law in Toronto or Oakville, call 647-796-0017 or email us at