+ We've agreed on everything. Do we really need a written agreement?
Yes, you need a written agreement for family law issues in order for the agreement to be valid and enforceable. A verbal agreement in family law is not legally binding.
+ Our situation is very simple. Can we write our own agreement and have a Notary Public witness it?
It is risky to write your own Separation Agreement or to use a generic kit to prepare an agreement as chances are high that you may leave out an important detail or you may use words that have a different legal meaning than what you intend. If your agreement turns out to be problematic, it can be very expensive and sometimes impossible to correct your error.
Furthermore, if you need bank financing to take over your family home or to purchase a new home, you should know that most banks will not approve your financing on the basis of a home-made Separation Agreement.
Lastly, a Notary Public is not allowed to witness family law agreements.
+ I've heard mediation is the most cost-effective way of handling separation. Is that true?
Yes! Family law mediation allows you to share the cost of one professional rather than each hiring your own lawyers.
The process is cooperative and therefore generally proceeds much faster than the traditional adversarial legal process which also keeps the cost down.
In addition, we provide our clients with the peace of mind of a unique flat fee package so that they know exactly what cost they are incurring from the beginning.
+ How long is the family mediation process?
This will depend on the complexity of your circumstances and how far along you are in your discussions.
The vast majority of couples who work with us on a Separation Agreement are able to reach the terms of agreement within 1 - 2 joint meetings. Higher conflict cases may require 3 or more meetings.
We can usually provide you with the first draft of your Separation Agreement within a few days of the meeting in which you decide on the terms that you would like included in the agreement.
This short video explains The Modern Separations Process.
+ What family law issues can be handled?
In your Separation Agreement, we are able to address all of the issues arising out of your separation that are relevant and important to you, including:
-Determination of family property and debt
-Division of family property and debt (for example, documenting the details of one of you buying the family home from the other so that you can get bank re-financing approved)
-Parenting arrangements and parenting time (formerly referred to as custody and access)
-Special and extraordinary expenses for your children (such as daycare expenses, extra-curricular activities, medical expenses, etc.)
-Spousal support (also known as alimony)
-Decision-making and communication guidelines
-Interim arrangements, such as use of the family home, management of household expenses, and support, pending the final transfer or sale of the family home
-Other details specific to your family.
+ What's so great about E-Mediation?
E-Mediation is an incredibly flexible, comfortable, and time-saving process.
We use a platform called Zoom. This service is free for our clients and is very easy to use. You can access the video chat ‘meeting room’ from your phone, tablet or computer through a link that we will provide to you by email.
Watch our short video on the 7 Reasons We Love E-Mediation.
+ How can I know if mediation is right for us?
This is a stressful time and it can be difficult to figure out the right thing to do. We've created a short Questionnaire to help you decide if mediation is appropriate for you.
+ Am I committed to the mediation process if I attend the Initial Consultation?
No, not at all.
The purpose of the Initial Consultation for Family Law Mediation is for you to get to know the mediator, to understand the mediation process, and to confidentially provide any information that you feel will help the mediator successfully guide the family mediation process for you.
The Initial Consultation is also an opportunity for the mediator to ensure that the mediation will be a safe and appropriate process for your family situation before you get started.
You will only proceed to mediation if you and your spouse both agree to do so after you have each had your own private and confidential Initial Consultation.
+ What happens if I'm not comfortable?
We encourage you to let us know what will help you through the process.
Meetings will be based on your preference of video chat, phone or in person. We can take breaks as needed during your meetings if you are feeling emotional.
However, if you decide that the process is not right for you, you are free to discontinue your participation at any time.
+ How can I start getting organized?
You can start gathering your financial information. You don't need to have all of the documents ready before starting family mediation but it can save you some time during the process if you are fairly organized. We've prepared a Checklist to help you get organized.