Resolving Conflict in Marriage Separation – Alternatives to Going to Court
“They say that breaking up is hard to do” – so go the words of an old 1960’s song. Anyone going through the break-up of a long term relationship knows the truth of those words. When parties separate, feelings of loss, betrayal, anger and guilt come flooding to the fore, leaving thought processes paralysed.
If you are recently separated, begin with the understanding that you are grieving, and that you need help with your feelings. A qualified family counsellor can assist you in dealing with your emotions. During that process, you should begin answering this question: “What do I want my life to look like after all my marital issues are resolved?”
If there are no pressing legal issues that need resolving, giving yourself time to heal can be beneficial to arriving at an agreement with your spouse that satisfies both your needs. Court applications are a hostile start up to the negotiation process, and can infect both the tone and outcome of subsequent negotiations. Consider this only if there are immediate concerns that cannot be dealt with through agreement between the parties.
“Doesn’t let’s talk sound better than see you in court?” Hostile court applications are real barriers to the ability to reach an agreement that you can live with. Talking is difficult when feelings are high. Court applications heighten the emotional level of the already existing conflicts. Mediation offers a means of lowering the emotional level so you can get in touch with your future needs.
A mediation is a meeting between the parties (and their lawyer if they so wish), and a neutral professional mediator. The goal of the mediator is to assist you in communicating your needs and wishes, and facilitate a final settlement of outstanding issues. Mediation can apply to parenting plans, support issues, and division of property.
The mediation process is not easy. It can be an emotional experience, and takes time to resolve the issues. Both parties bring their past to the mediation table, and often find it difficult to focus on the future. The role of the mediator is to assist in the resolution process.
A large percentage of mediations result in settlement. Even where settlement is not reached, the parties gain knowledge of where they are unable to agree, and what their options are.
A roster of family mediators can be found at Mediate B.C.’s website (www.mediatebc.com). Mediate B.C. maintains a roster of skilled mediators who have met their requirements of training and experience, and ongoing professional development each year. Mediate B.C. enforces a code of ethics that their mediators must abide by.
Lawyers who have practiced for a specified number of years, and have completed a designated number of courses, are qualified by the Law Society to do mediations. If an individual or corporation holds themselves out as mediators, make sure they are qualified.
If you have outstanding parenting or support issues only, and you are of limited means, the Family Justice Center offers mediation free of charge. You can contact them at 250 712 3636.
Mediation is a safe, needs-centred approach to resolving conflict.