Mediation gaining popularity in British Columbia

Family mediation is becoming a more popular option than litigation because it is both affordable and effective, according to its practitioners. Canadian lawmakers have embraced the trend by passing the Family Law Act, which became effective in March 2013. The Act encourages individuals to settle family disputes outside of court. In addition to the Act, the Legal Services Society launched a pilot project using increased funding from the Justice Ministry.

To facilitate dispute resolution, the program provides mediation referral and financial support services for families. Families who qualify for financial aid may receive six hours of services provided by the Mediate BC Society. Additional mediation services may be offered on a sliding scale rate, according to the assets and income of the participants.

Mediation is often an affordable and effective alternative to court. In addition, both parties are more likely to be satisfied with the outcome in comparison with litigation. Mediation allows a couple to custom-design their divorce order; whereas, a judge may simply use a standard formula to make determinations regarding property division, child custody and child support. According to the Mediate BC roster, 93 percent of mediation participants reported satisfaction with the process. Furthermore, 81 percent of cases reported a resolution of all issues, and an additional 17 percent reported moving closer to a resolution.

A divorce lawyer can explain the differences between litigation and mediation. Some couples may feel as though their conflicts are too difficult to resolve without litigation; however, many couples are able to resolve most, if not all, disputes through mediation. Depending on the circumstances, a lawyer may work as an intermediary to reduce tension and conflict.

Source: Vancouver Sun, “Ian Mulgrew: Family mediation keeps divorce out of the courtroom,” Ian Mulgrew, Jan. 1, 2015

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