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Family Mediation: A neutral place where parents can work together

How can mediation help you and your family during separation or divorce?
Photo courtesy of the Yukon Department of Justice.

Separation or divorce – rarely planned for, often a surprise and certainly a stressful situation to navigate, especially when children and finances are involved.

“Knowing where to start and who to call is the first of many hurdles when facing a separation or divorce,” says Rosa Barraco, Family Mediator at Yukon Family Mediation Services.

Barraco shares some of the questions she gets asked most frequently when it comes to family mediation and the services available:

Q. What is the cost and timeframe?

“How much?” and “How long?” are certainly two of the most common mediation questions Barraco receives. The good news is that mediation is free to parents at Yukon Family Mediation Service. ‘As for how long, each file is unique. We try to wrap things up within two to nine hours of joint mediation meetings. It very much depends on the list of issues brought to the table,’ she says.

Q. What are the benefits to mediation?

For one, mediation is less expensive and generally faster than some other family dispute resolution options, such as the court process. Secondly, it offers parents a chance to discuss and arrange their parenting agreement to prioritize the unique needs of their children, as well as themselves. Mediation can also help provide a foundation for long-term healthy co-parenting practices, in particular, communication between parents.

Q. Who has access to mediation services?

Yukon Family Mediation Service is based in Whitehorse but serves Yukon families throughout the territory. Virtual meetings are an option, and when technology is a challenge, phone-based meetings can be used for those in communities where internet services are limited.

Q. Does mediation only work for amicable separations?

Mediation is voluntary. The focus of the mediator’s involvement is to help with communication between the parties. It is an option for people who would like to work together to reach an agreement and potentially avoid court processes or other recourses if the parties can’t come to a solution together.

“As long as both parties are willing to try, and safety is not a concern, mediation can offer a good starting point. Negotiations can happen using different formats; face-to-face meetings are not suitable in some instances,” Barraco says. “The role of the mediator as a neutral third party is to assist in the discussions, providing a safe environment for everyone to speak openly and honestly.”

Q. If mediation is successful, do I still need a lawyer?

It’s best to consider mediation and legal counsel as two halves of a whole. Mediation is often a good place to start when gathering information about dispute resolution options. Legal advice is strongly encouraged at each stage in the mediation process. Lawyer consultations can take place before beginning mediation sessions, during the process as needed, and especially encouraged at the close of the process before either party signs a legally binding agreement.

“Keep in mind that one of our primary goals is to prevent children from becoming entangled in the separation/divorce process,” Barraco adds. “In addition, in the event that family violence is disclosed, there may be other support services involved or referrals made to help participants prepare before mediation can begin. Screening for violence within the family is addressed during intake and monitored during the process.”

Ready to start the mediation process? Contact Rosa Barraco directly by phone at 867-667-5753 or start the process by email by contacting [email protected]. Find more information on mediation in the Yukon online here and information on the family dispute resolution process here.

READ MORE from the Yukon Department of Justice:

Navigating support payments: The role of Yukon’s maintenance enforcement program