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Family mediation can help couples get better settlements

One of the reasons people in Alberta hear such negative things about the divorce courts is because many people who go through the typical divorce or separation process are unhappy with the orders or judgments issued by the Courts. Whether they think they should get a larger portion of property, more time with the children, a lower child support order or spousal support, dissatisfaction with one's family law settlement can build to years of resentment. It can also cause significant problems for the individuals caught between the two feuding ex-spouses: children and mutual friends.

One way to combat dissatisfaction is to use family mediation. While there is no guarantee that mediation will work for a couple, the process does give soon-to-be ex's greater say in who gets what and why. When couples are forced to communicate, they and their lawyers can try to work out a settlement that is fairer and more satisfactory for both parties.

Some people are concerned that mediation may not be able to get them "justice" like they would if they were to go to court. The problem is, however, that their concept of justice may be significantly different from that of the Judge who ultimately imposes a resolution. Also, the procedural steps that must be completed before getting a trial date may drag out the process, creating "litigation fatigue" until one spouse is so fed up that he or she will give up important rights just for the divorce to be finalized.

Not only does mediation help to give spouses more input into crafting their settlements, but that increased participation typically encourages spouses to follow through on their settlements. If an individual has influenced the terms of a settlement, he or she is probably more likely to uphold his or her commitments than if simply ordered by a Judge.

Source: Mississauga News, "Mediate your way to a Better Divorce Settlement: Court Settlement does not Always Result in the Justice you Seek," May 1, 2014

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