FAQ's - Family Law Act Resolution Process

There are a number of new processes available under British Columbia family law to assist separating couples. Here are some short and understandable definitions to help you to distinguish between them.


  • What is my first step?  The first thing to do is to read the description set out below and then contact us to make an initial appointment to decide which of the new family law processes are best for you and your family.   


  • What is Family Law Negotiation?  The goal of family law negotiation is to sort out the many issues to be resolved in a direct and non-adversarial matter.  It is a “no court approach”.  It is intended to be respective of all parties, with a goal of keeping the costs reasonable and affordable.  In this process we act for one of the partners only (either the wife or husband).


  • What is Divorce Mediation?  Mediation is an assisted negotiation.  The mediator helps the two partners to come to agreements on all of the many things which need to be agreed upon when a couple separates, especially if they have children.  Mediators do not impose a final decision on the parties, but with their experience helps them come to an agreement.  

  • What is Collaborative Divorce?  Collaborative family law lawyers are trained to take a team approach to helping families sort out separation and divorce issues.  This process recognizes that a divorce is not simply a legal matter, but involves emotions, loss at many levels, finances and future planning.  The primary team is made up of two trained and certified collaborative family law lawyers, who have other members of the team who can be involved as necessary, depending on what is needed. These collaborative team members are certified financial advisers, therapists and psychologists.


  • What is a parenting Coordinator?  A parenting coordinator is a specially trained person (usually a lawyer or therapist) who is appointed by the parties (or the Court) to make final decisions on everyday matters concerning the raising of children when the parents are mostly fighting about everything.  It provides an immediate, simple answer to disputed parenting issues.


  • What is Family Law Arbitration?  In arbitration the person meeting with you makes the final decision.  These decisions are legally binding and are made after meeting with the parties involved over one or several meetings.  Sometimes a mediator will become an arbitrator to rule on one or two issues which the parties have not been able to resolve.  This is not common, but is a useful way to finally solve a dispute in certain circumstances.




Common Questions about Separation & Divorce Mediation


Q. When should mediation start?


A. Really, the sooner the better.  This helps to prevent miscommunication during a difficult time and getting off on the wrong foot.  In fact, many couples come to mediation while they are still living together and before the actual separation in order to obtain the assistance of the mediator in planning the actual separation.  Other couples come shortly after the separation and still others come months (or even years) after the separation.  It is never too late to start.


Q. How long does the mediation process take?


A. On an average the mediation process takes about eight weeks.  You meet with the mediator every two weeks or so (depending on the urgency and the amount of homework to be done between sessions).  Each session lasts two hours, or longer if the parties wish.


Q. Does a final decision have to be reached on every issue right away?


A. No, you can make interim decisions on each issue.


Q. Is mediation meant to effect a reconciliation of the marriage?


A. No, the discussions focus on settling the issues in dispute, although an improvement in communication between the spouses usually results.