The breakdown of a marriage or relationship can be an overwhelming and tense time for the family unit. It is a financial, emotional and legal crisis. A drawn out legal proceeding can come at a high financial and emotional cost and it can further damage an already strained relationship.

While an aggressive legal strategy may be appropriate in certain circumstances, for the majority of families who are facing a breakdown, such an approach is not necessary. There is a growing culture shift of families seeking to mediate a family breakdown. This shift is evidenced in the new amendments to the Divorce Act, which encourages family law lawyers to attempt out of court resolutions.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a process that both parties voluntarily agree to enter into with a neutral third party, being the Mediator. The Mediator creates the space and place possible for parties to construct a separation that meets their needs for their future. The entire process is confidential and cannot be used in any legal proceedings. Often families with high conflict assume that they are not able to mediate, when in fact research on mediation tells us that this is not true. Families in high conflict often benefit the most from mediation and report that they found mediation empowering.

No one intends to face a family breakdown, but creating a new plan B is possible.

A Family Lawyer as Your Mediator

A practising family lawyer has experience with the governing legislation that effects your marriage and relationship breakdown, such as the Divorce Act, the Federal Child Support Guidelines, the Marital Property Act and the Family Law Act in New Brunswick, all of which govern a parties' breakdown. Although a mediator is not offering legal advice, a mediator that is an experienced family law lawyer can ensure the agreement is legally durable and can provide general legal information to help you make informed decisions.

Benefits of Mediation

A byproduct of mediation is that it can help improve communication and boundaries, with the hope that the parties' can improve their overall relationship moving forward. This is critical in cases where children are involved and the parties must continue to co-parent. You also control how the separation looks instead of a Court imposed arrangement that may not meet your family's needs. You and your partner work to get at the root of what each party needs.

Evidence tells us that people who pursue mediation have a high success rate in resolving their conflict. Further, they tend to be more satisfied as they have taken ownership over the agreement because they have created it for themselves.

The title of this article is a restatement of a quote by Joseph Joubert "Never cut what you can untie" and it reminds us that there is more than one way to approach the dissolution of a marriage. If possible, family ties may not necessarily need to be cut, instead, through mediation, you and your partner can work to disentangle the relationship to create something new.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.