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A co-operative approach for parents who are separating

What is mediation?

In mediation, a skilled, professional counsellor helps parents make decisions about the ongoing care of their children after separation. It can help parents make decisions about:
  • how the children will spend time with each parent on weekdays, weekends, holidays; and
  • how they will continue to make major decisions about education, religion, health care and activities.
Mediation is a voluntary process. It is not personal therapy or marriage counselling, although your mediator can help you obtain these services.

What can I expect in mediation?

You will be asked to attend For the Sake of the Children, an information program to learn more about the separation process and the needs of children during separation. You will also learn more about mediation and other services. Mediation occurs through meetings with both parents in attendance. Individual interviews may be held in addition to joint sessions.
It generally takes about three to four meetings to reach agreement with each session lasting about one and one-half hours.
Mediation is strictly confidential except where information gained during mediation indicates that a child is at risk or has been abused or neglected.
Successful mediation results in a written parenting agreement that spells out, in detail, arrangements regarding the children. It can be tailor-made to the needs of the family members.
Copies of the agreement may be provided to your lawyers.
There is no cost for mediation services.

What are the advantages of mediation?

Mediation helps parents to:
  • focus on the children's needs and best interests;
  • look at options they may not have considered;
  • find new ways of building trust, respect and confidence in each other; and
  • talk with professionals who have considerable knowledge and experience working with children from separated families.
Through mediation, parents often feel more committed to agreements they make themselves than those imposed by the courts.
childChildren are likely to adjust better to separation if they know their parents still care for them and are involved in making decisions about their future. In this way, children will continue to feel loved and protected by both parents.
The mediation process can help parents develop healthier ways of communicating. It may also be a way to continue discussing your children's changing needs and how to respond to them.
Mediation generally focuses on the present and the future. This reduces the risk of allowing past sensitive or emotional issues to interfere with your ability to make appropriate decisions for your children.

How can I help make mediation work?

You can help mediation succeed by doing the following:
  • set aside angry/hurt feelings towards each other and attempt to leave the marital issues behind;
  • attempt to see your former spouse as someone who also has parental responsibilities;
  • try to overcome a desire to blame or seek vengeance;
  • keep the focus of discussion on the children;
  • be willing to co-operate and compromise; and
  • accept each other as equal parenting partners without trying to manipulate or overpower the other through fear or intimidation.

What if circumstances change?

If circumstances change or if problems arise with your current agreement, you can return to Family Conciliation Services to discuss issues or make different arrangements for your children.

What happens if we can't agree?

Sometimes parents are not able to reach an agreement, even with the help of a mediator.
More time may be needed to resolve feelings of hurt, anger or distrust before a mediated settlement can be reached. You may want to look at other alternatives or ways of complementing the mediation process by:
  • consulting a lawyer,
  • seeking to settle the matter in court, or
  • personal counselling.

What should we tell the children?

Children usually do not want to take sides and should not be asked to do so.
Children get upset when they see their parents fighting and blaming each other.
Children often worry about what will happen to them.
Therefore, it is necessary for parents to reassure their children that they are making plans together and that they can still count on both parents even though they don't live together any more.

Comprehensive Co-Mediation

All the above information applies to Comprehensive Co-Mediation. Differences between Comprehensive Co-Mediation and Mediation are:
  • A family law Lawyer-Mediator and a Family Relations Mediator will work as a team with parents to help them resolve their issues.
  • Legal information will be given to mediation participants but no legal or other advice will be provided.
  • In some cases the mediation may occur in a sequence whereby the participants mediate their family issues with a Family Relations Mediator and their property and support issues with a Lawyer-Mediator at separate times.
Mediation is available through Family Conciliation Services in the Department of Families. Family Conciliation Services also works closely with the Family Division of the Court of Queen's Bench to resolve child custody and access issues.

More Information

Family Conciliation Services
2nd Floor - 379 Broadway
Winnipeg MB R3C 0T9
Phone: (204) 945-7236
Fax: (204) 948-2142
Toll-free: 1-800-282-8069
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