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BC family law allows for enforced mediation

In an ideal world, any two people going through a divorce or separation will work out all their issues and differences in a collaborative fashion. For many couples, this is, in fact, how it works. Alternative dispute resolution techniques like mediation and arbitration allow for many potential divorce disputes to be settled without resorting to litigation. Some couples, however, may find they are in disagreement over how to proceed. When one partner wants to negotiate but the other doesn’t, it may be possible under family law to compel a reluctant party to enter mediation.

If a divorce or other family law dispute is proceeding in a British Columbia Supreme Court, either party may choose to attempt to settle the matter through mediation. To do so, the interested party needs to file a Notice to Mediate as outlined in the Law and Equity Act. Generally, the Notice may be given at any point between 90 days after the filing of the first response and 90 days before the trial date. A court can alter these parameters, however.

Pre-mediation meetings will be held with each party separately in order to determine if mediation is appropriate to the situation. For example, if a power imbalance is perceived by a mediator, or if there is a history of abuse, mediation will not take place. If for any reason a mediator feels mediation will not be productive, he or she will end the process.

Once the notice has been served, the parties must agree upon a mediator within 14 days, with mediation to follow within 60 days of the mediator’s appointment. When all the arrangements are set, both parties are required to attend the mediation session. Failure to do so may result in a court order to attend or a delay in the process until the session is attended.

Though it may seem counter-intuitive to force mediation, the results from mandated mediation sessions over motor vehicle issues in British Columbia show an approximately 80 percent success rate. If an individual believes mediation is the right way to proceed with a divorce or other family law issue, it might be beneficial to first turn to a family law firm for advice and assistance. Their experience may help to answer any questions, and aid with any requirements during this sensitive time.

Source: www2.gov.bc.ca, “Notice to Mediate (Family) Regulation“, Accessed on Dec. 19, 2016

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