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Separation and divorce

Preparing for family mediation

Family mediation is an informal process that requires little preparation because the mediator is there to guide you through each step. Nevertheless, there are a few things you can do before your first session that can make the discussion easier and help you come up with solutions.

Learn more about mediation

IIs this your first experience with family mediation? Learn more about the mediation process to understand what it will involve.

If you have any questions, contact your mediator in advance or write down your questions to ask the mediator during the first meeting.

Have you heard of the Info-Separation service?

Info-Separation service is a free service provided by Community Justice Centres that gives you the opportunity to learn about the mediation process and meet with a lawyer or notary to obtain legal information about your personal situation.

En apprendre plus

Info-Separation service (Community Justice Centres)

Make a list of topics to discuss

Some topics will inevitably be discussed during the mediation.

For example, if you have children, the parenting schedule (custody schedule) and the calculation of child support will definitely be discussed.

Mediation will also cover the division of your property and debts. For example, if you’re married, the mediator will bring up the partition of the family patrimony and the dissolution of the matrimonial regime. If you’re in a de facto partnership, you can express your views on the division of your joint property and debts.

If you think of other topics that should be discussed (e.g., your children’s education, co-parenting, spousal support, dividing a joint business, etc.), write them down and mention them to your mediator at the first meeting so that they can be added to the agenda.

Think about decisions concerning your children (if you have any)

During mediation, you and your ex will have to make several important decisions about your children.

To prepare for these discussions, think about what you want for your children and what is realistic in your situation.

For example, consider the following topics:

  • Various possible parenting schedules
  • The division of certain tasks (e.g., making medical appointments, registering for recreational activities, purchasing winter clothing, etc.)
  • The preferred means of communication to share information about your children

Make a list of your assets, debts, and expenses

Separation and divorce involve numerous financial issues, which may include the division of property and debts, child support, spousal support, and more, depending on your situation.

It may be useful to draw up a statement of your financial situation so that you have the right information on hand when you begin your discussions.

Here are three documents you can prepare in anticipation of mediation:

  • An inventory of your assets (e.g., property, bank accounts, investments, etc.) and debts (e.g., credit cards, mortgages, personal loans, etc.)
    Balance sheet (Autorité des marchés financiers)
  • A list of child-related expenses (childcare, tuition, recreational activities, etc.)
  • A budget (list of your income and expenses)
    Budget Planner (Government of Canada)

Don’t hesitate to consult a financial advisor, accountant, or actuary for help assessing your current or future financial needs.

Gather the necessary documents

Mediators sometimes ask participants to bring certain documents to the first session. If necessary, your mediator will tell you which documents to have with you.

Don’t wait too long to gather these documents because it could take some time to get them.

Come prepared to talk

For mediation to be successful, you must come to the sessions with an open mind and be ready to talk to your ex so that you can find solutions together. Here are some things to remember during the sessions:

  • Avoid blaming each other: work on possible solutions, don’t revisit past conflicts
  • Practice active listening: don’t think about your next answer as you listen to your ex talk
  • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes: try to understand his or her values, interests, needs, and emotions

Listen to your emotions

It’s important not to overlook the emotional aspect of mediation. It can be difficult to be in the same room as your ex and to discuss sometimes sensitive subjects with him or her if you’re still grieving the separation.

You might find it helpful to speak with a professional such as a psychologist to prepare for mediation.

Also, remember that if the mediation session becomes too emotional, you have the right to ask for a break or stop the process.

Resources

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Warning

The information presented on this page is not a legal opinion or legal advice. This page explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. To obtain a legal opinion or legal advice on your personal situation, consult a legal professional.