Ontario Family Court – Preparing for Mediation and Negotiation Techniques Used in Mediation

Thanks to the abundance of Mediation Services Toronto has to offer, separating families have easy access to friendlier methods to resolve their differences. This is even more so since the Ontario Family Court system now makes mediation mandatory in some instances.

People often ask me how they can assist in preparing for mediation. This article will highlight some mediation and negotiation techniques you are likely to encounter and why certain techniques used in mediation are designed to have you open up about your goals and motivations.

Mediators use different skills and mediation and negotiation techniques to help clients express their motivations about why they want certain things.  This highly effective feature is not available in the adversarial Ontario Family Court environment. Understanding some techniques used in mediation will allow you to be prepared and to maximize the chances of success.

Always inquire about the mediation and negotiation techniques employed by your chosen mediator. It will help you to get organized and to maximize your chances of reaching an agreement.

Here are a few mediation and negotiation techniques you are likely to encounter:

1.   Each party meets alone with the mediator before a joint meeting. This technique allows each party to express himself and herself fully to the mediator without feeling any pressure from the other.

>If you are entering this model, present your case to the mediator from your heart, saying it how it is for you authentically. And find a way to express your concerns about the other spouse in a constructive rather than critical manner.

2.   If lawyers are involved, lawyers may be asked to prepare a summary of the legal issues for the mediator. Mediators use these negotiation techniques to zoom in on the issues to be resolved. But they also unfortunately force people to take positions which may tend to polarize the parties.

>If you are entering this model and expect to get exactly what your lawyer wrote, you will be disappointed and probably unable to settle. In preparing for mediation, keep your mind open to other possible avenues of resolution.

3.   If lawyers are involved, they may be asked to participate in a brief 3-way call with the mediator before a meeting with all parties present. This technique helps the professionals to get acquainted and to build trust. It is well researched that building trust is a key element to a successful negotiation.

>If you are entering this model, ask your lawyer what they will say on your behalf, and instruct your lawyer to present you as willing to listen to different options. The goal of the call is not to criticise the other side. Generous listening of the other point of view will help to create an atmosphere of cooperation which will bode well for reaching agreements.

4.   The mediator will generally use questioning and active listening techniques. These negotiation techniques are designed to help people express their emotions and feelings that are behind what the dispute is about.

> Use the openings that such techniques used in mediation will provide to be frank about why you really want certain things. Avoid criticizing the other. If both parties listen to each other’s true motivations, very often they will find ways to accommodate each other in very creative ways.

Of all of the techniques used in mediation, my two favourite negotiation techniques are: speak from your heart about why certain things are important to you and don’t attack the other. Focus on these when preparing for mediation.

The mediation services Toronto has available are not just for private disputes but also for families that are in the Ontario Family Court system.

To find out more about mediation services Toronto Courts provide, visit: https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/courts/manmed/notice.asp

For information on finding private mediators, visit www.collaborativepracticetoronto.com and www.oafm.on.ca.

Whether you are mediating privately or in the Ontario Family Court system, when preparing for mediation, these negotiation techniques will help you to understand what is expected of you.

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