Frequently Asked Questions

Before you hire a family mediator, ensure they belong to an accredited organization (AFMS, ADRIA, the Law Society of Alberta, College of Social Workers, Psychologists' Association of Alberta). Ask to see their credentials.

Ten Things You Can Do To Prepare for Mediation:

1)   Gather up any paperwork or factual information that will be needed.
2)   Think about getting legal advice
3)   Confirm location, date and time for the appointment
4)   Make a list of things that you want to discuss
5)   Plan to communicate in a manner that everyone will understand
6)   Develop strategies to deal with your emotions
7)   Consider how fees might be paid
8)   Expect the unexpected – new ideas arise when people work together
9)   Allow enough time for a solution to be reached
10) Look forward to resolution!

What is Parenting Coordination?

The role of a Registered Parenting Coordinator and Arbitrator (RPCA) is to help with communication and cooperation between parents for the purpose of effectively co-parenting their children. An RPCA's role involves meeting with the parents to establish cooperative parenting plans and to assist in dispute resolution using mediation skills. If agreements cannot be made with mediation, the RPCA has decision making authority by means of a binding decision as governed by the Arbitration Act of Alberta. AFMS strongly advises parents to ensure that a Parenting Coordinator is a member of a registered professional body.

What is Family Mediation?

Family mediation is a collaborative way of resolving disputes between people with the guidance of a mediator or an impartial third party. It provides a safe and informal place for individuals to have an open and honest discussion, as well as the opportunity to work together to come up with mutually agreeable solutions.

Why would you choose mediation?

Mediation can save you time and money. It is confidential and provides you with the chance to explore a wide range of possible solutions. It also allows individuals to make their own decisions and retain control of the outcome.

Is family mediation voluntary?

Yes, family mediation is generally entered into on a voluntary basis.

Is family mediation right for you?

Family mediation may not be appropriate for families that are experiencing issues of violence, neglect or chronic alcohol/drug abuse. 

What issues can be discussed in mediation?

Issues involving parenting, communication, child support, division of property and spousal support can all be discussed in family mediation with respect to separation and divorce and general family situations.

Family Business mediation includes all issues that may arise in the operation and succession planning inherent in a family business.

Parenting mediation includes issues such as: daily routines and parenting schedule, parenting time sharing arrangements e.g. holidays, summer vacations, discipline issues, child care/babysitting, transportation and exchange of children (drop off/pick up), medical, dental, vision care and other medical issues, psychological counseling, testing and assessment, extracurricular activities and special events, education e.g. School choice, tutoring, special needs issues, etc.

What is the role of the mediator?

A mediator is an impartial third party whose role is to facilitate communication between individuals and assist them in negotiating a voluntary resolution of their issues based on open and honest discussion between them. The mediator is neutral and unbiased and does not provide legal advice. 

What is your role in the mediation?

Your role in the mediation is to have an effective conversation with the other person, to be clear about your concerns and needs and to be open to listen to the other person’s concerns and needs. Your goal is to work together to come up with solutions that you both agree upon. 

Where and when does mediation take place?

Mediation can take place in a neutral environment that is considered safe and comfortable for all individuals involved. It can take place during the day, the evening or on the weekends, whichever is most suitable for all people involved.

How long will the mediation take?

An individual mediation may take anywhere from two to three hours and one to several mediations may be required depending on the number of issues that need to be resolved, as well as the complexity of the issues. Many disputes are resolved in one or two mediations.

Is mediation private and confidential?

Conversations taking place during mediation are private. Generally, it is only the individuals involved in the dispute that attend the mediation (see below). Also, the decision as to whether these conversations will be kept confidential or whether they will be shared outside the mediation and with whom they are shared with may be decided by the participants. The mediator does not share any of the information discussed in the mediation outside of this forum. 

Can other people attend the mediation with you?

Generally, it is only the people involved in the dispute that attend mediation; however, on occasion you may have another individual such as your lawyer or another support person attend the mediation with you. This may occur as long as all people involved in the mediation agree upon who will be in the mediation room ahead of time.

What is pre-mediation?

Pre-mediation is sometimes appropriate and is an opportunity for each person involved in the dispute to speak individually with the mediator. This meeting usually lasts anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes and may take place over the phone or in person. During this meeting, the mediator will provide you with an orientation to the mediation, may determine the readiness of each person to participate in mediation, as well as collect your contact information and find out briefly what you need to resolve in mediation.

Do I need to sign any documents?

The only document that you will be asked to sign is the Agreement to Mediate at the beginning of the mediation. The purpose of this agreement is to be clear about the parameters of mediation including confidentiality and to confirm your commitment to proceed with mediation. Ask your mediator if you are interested in reviewing a copy of the Agreement to Mediate prior to the mediation.

What will happen in the mediation?

The mediator will sit down with the participants and discuss a few preliminary items including communication and confidentiality. The people involved in the mediation will determine which matters they need to resolve. The mediator will then facilitate a discussion between the participants and ensure that each person has the opportunity to explain their concerns and needs. The mediator will assist in creating understanding between the participants and provide them with the opportunity to generate and evaluate solutions to their dispute. Solutions that are agreed upon by the participants can be written up in a Memorandum of Understanding by the mediator. The Memorandum of Understanding or Mediated Agreement is not legally binding, but can be used as the basis of a legal agreement or Court Order.

How do I make my mediated agreement legal?

You can make your agreement legal through a lawyer, through the assistance of a Family Court Counsellor with Justice and Solicitor General Resolution Services, or on your own. Court applications can be picked up or are available online from the Family Law Information Centre.

What are my legal rights?

The mediator cannot provide you with legal advice. You can speak with your lawyer or with an organization such as Legal Aid Alberta if you wish to get legal advice. It is recommended that you know your legal entitlements and responsibilities prior to entering into a legal agreement or Court Order.

What will be the cost involved?

The cost for mediation is generally based on an hourly fee. For more information, please contact any of the mediators registered with AFMS, see our Find a Mediator page.