Family Law

Mediation, a process that may seem trivial to some, but which can in many cases save all family ties during a separation. According to a report released by the
Government of Canada
, more than eight out of ten parents (84%) say they have reached an agreement with their ex-spouse during the family mediation process. Of those, 86% reached a complete agreement, demonstrating the significant success rate of such a process.


When a couple decides to separate, they face many complex decisions, including child custody, child support, and property division. They then have two options: mediation or court. In this article, we will take a detailed look at these two approaches in order to help separating couples choose the best path to resolve their differences effectively and fairly.

Understanding Mediation and the Tribunal

Mediation is a dispute resolution process in which a neutral and impartial third party helps the parties to the dispute reach a mutually acceptable agreement. Unlike court, mediation emphasizes communication, collaboration, and finding solutions that meet the needs and interests of each party.

divorce Definition of Judicial Procedure

Court procedure refers to the legal process by which disputes are resolved in a court of law. Unlike mediation, the court process involves lawyers, judges, and binding decisions. This process follows strict rules and can be time-consuming, costly, and contentious for separating couples.

The court process may be necessary when mediation fails or when the parties cannot agree on a solution. However, it is important to note that the systematic use of the court process can lead to increased stress, legal costs, and prolonged conflict between the separating parties.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Mediation

Mediation provides a more informal and confidential setting for separating couples, promoting more open and constructive communication. Decisions made are made by the parties, which can lead to more personalized and long-lasting agreements.

Disadvantages of Mediation

However, mediation can sometimes be less restrictive, leaving room for power imbalances between the parties. In addition, if an agreement is not reached, couples will then have to resort to legal proceedings, resulting in additional costs and extended deadlines.

It is essential to recognize that mediation is not always the ideal solution, especially in cases of domestic violence, asset concealment, or significant power imbalances.

Advantages of the Court Procedure

The judicial procedure provides a strict legal framework that guarantees respect for the rights of each of the spouses. Decisions taken by a judge are binding and enforceable, providing legal certainty.

In addition, the court process provides access to lawyers to ensure adequate and fair legal representation, which can be crucial in complex cases.

Disadvantages of the Court Procedure

However, the legal process can be lengthy, costly, and very confrontational. Final decisions are made by an impartial third party, which can sometimes leave the parties dissatisfied with the verdict rendered.

It is important to weigh the pros and cons of each option, based on the specific situation of the separating couple, to choose the best approach for their needs.

Choosing the Best Path Based on the Context

When it comes to choosing between mediation and court to manage a separation, it is essential to assess the specific needs of each couple. Mediation may be more suitable for couples who want to preserve a friendly relationship, make decisions together, and control the process, while court may be necessary in cases of significant conflict, deep-seated disagreements, or situations of domestic violence.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Mediation or Court

When making the decision between mediation and court, there are several factors to consider. Mediation can offer a faster, cheaper, and more flexible process, while the court ensures binding decisions and a strict legal framework. It is important to consider the level of conflict, the ability to communicate between partners, and the complexity of the issues to be resolved before making a choice.

Role of Legal Professionals

The mediator plays a crucial role in the mediation process by helping separating couples reach mutually acceptable agreements. Its main mission is to facilitate communication between the parties, guide them towards constructive solutions and ensure that everyone’s interests are taken into account. Her communication, negotiation, and conflict resolution skills are essential in helping couples find satisfying compromises.

The Lawyer and the Judge: Their Roles in Legal Proceedings

When mediation is unsuccessful or unthinkable, separating couples hire a lawyer to represent them in court. The lawyer acts as a legal advisor, defends the client’s interests and pleads on his behalf before the judge. The judge, on the other hand, is responsible for deciding disputes based on the evidence and arguments presented by the parties’ lawyers. Its role is to apply the law impartially and make decisions that are fair to all parties involved.

Legal & Financial Matters

The legal implications of mediation and court differ considerably. In mediation, separating couples are encouraged to reach mutually beneficial agreements with the help of a neutral mediator. The decisions made are consensual and may be more tailored to their situation. On the other hand, when a couple opts for court, a judge will make the final decisions based on the laws in place, which may not always meet the individual needs of the parties involved.

Financial Aspects: Costs and Duration

As far as the financial aspects are concerned, mediation is generally less expensive and faster than going to court. A mediator’s fees are shared between the parties, reducing overall costs, while the legal fees associated with a court process can add up quickly. In addition, mediation often allows for agreements to be reached more quickly, which also reduces the length of the process compared to a court dispute that can take months or even years.

A Better Way for Separating Couples?

Ultimately, it is essential for couples in the process of separating to carefully consider the pros and cons of mediation versus court. Mediation provides a safe and confidential space to resolve conflicts collaboratively, promoting healthier communication and long-lasting agreements. On the other hand, the tribunal may be necessary in situations of intense conflict or power imbalance. However, it is recommended to explore mediation first to foster a more harmonious and respectful process, allowing both parties to find solutions tailored to their specific needs. Ultimately, the choice between mediation and court will depend on the individual circumstances of each couple, but it is important to consider mediation as a viable option for finding fair and lasting solutions.