It is best for couples to get together for their first session. Your spouse may not be that far into the emotional process or has come to terms with the separation. Make sure that the first meeting with the Ombudsman is purely informative and informative. It is completely voluntary. After this first meeting, there is no obligation to return if you feel that the mediation does not correspond well to your situation. If your spouse still does not wish to participate in mediation, we can discuss other options. Before signing a separation agreement, even if it was designed by a mediator who is a lawyer (written as the first version), you and your spouse should each ask your own lawyer to consult with her to ensure that it is fair and in the best interests of your children. You both cannot hire the same lawyer, as this would be a conflict of interest. See What is independent legal advice? to learn more about conflicts of interest. During the introductory interview, you and your ex-partner usually meet separately with a trained mediator. Then you will have mediation sessions where you, your ex-partner and the Mediator sit down to discuss your differences. If you are trying to reach an agreement on money or property, you must complete a financial disclosure form when you go to mediation. You should include all your financial information, for example: if your agreement is about money or property, it`s a good idea to give your memorandum of understanding to a lawyer and ask them to turn it into a “consent order.” This means that you can take your ex-partner to court if they don`t respect what you agreed.
The Family Law Act establishes circumstances in which the court is not required to comply with a final separation agreement. The first is that one of the parties did not fully understand the nature and consequences of the separation agreement. This means understanding not only the contractual terms, but also the legal rights of each spouse in the circumstances. Spouses need to understand not only what they are receiving, but also what they are giving up. Because family law is quite complex, the courts have held that in order to truly understand the separation agreement, each party must have had independent legal advice. This means that each spouse must have met separately with a separate lawyer to get an explanation of their legal rights and the separation agreement. Mediators also cannot provide legal advice to either spouse, as the Mediator acts for both parties and cannot hide the concerns or interests of one spouse from the other. Coupled with the full understanding of the separation agreement, the second requirement is that the parties exchange full financial disclosure (for more information, see this blog). Lawyers are trained not only to exchange financial information, but also to recognize “red flags” that indicate that the other spouse is not entirely open-minded. . .