The way in which a Separation Agreement is reached by couples that file in Alberta will vary depending on the people involved. When couples are committed to working together in good faith, mediation is an excellent option. In the course of mediation, parties work with a neutral third party to reach an agreement regarding matters at issue. If, for some reason, the process if not successful, a case may still be arbitrated or litigated. Though a lawyer is not a requirement for mediation, in most cases it is advisable to have one on your side, either to assist at mediation or as a resource during the process.
For the best possible outcome in mediation there are a number of things that can be done. The first is to take the time to get the right mediator. Getting personal recommendations from others and interviewing possible choices, are good ways to determine whether the individual has any biases. In the case of family law, it is important to hire a mediator who is familiar with the relevant legislation and case law, and who can assist the couple in avoiding a deal that is not enforceable or can be re-opened by the courts.
Second, before mediation actually starts, it is important to make sure you have all relevant financial information. Taking the time to pull documents such as brokerage-account information, tax returns and bank statements, will allow the parties to make informed decisions that will generate a difference in the end result.
Certainly, being emotionally prepared for mediation is a good idea. Being able to control your emotions during mediation might prevent antagonizing comments from your spouse from getting to you. In some cases, it may be approriate to "caucus" with the mediator, separate from the other party. In some cases working with a therapist is advisable. Along those same lines, being empathetic and apologizing or thanking your spouse when appropriate may help to break down walls and reach a resolution sooner.
Statistically, mediation is successful more than half of the time. In cases where mediation is not entirely successful, the parties are usually able to resolve at least certain parts of their dispute, reducing the issues to be arbitrated or litigated.