E. Grabowski is a trained and experienced Mediator,
primarily in financial issues, division of property,
child support and spousal support.
Relations Mediators with specialized training generally
undertake mediation of parenting issues, including
custody, joint custody and visitation/access matters.
more information on Mediation:
Ontario Association for Family Mediation - Ottawa
Chapter at www.familymediationottawa.com
Ontario Association for Family Mediation at www.oafm.on.ca
INFORMATION FOR FAMILY MEDIATION CLIENTS
AND REFERRING AGENTS
Prepared by: Family Relations
Mediators Working Group (Members of OAFM, Ottawa)
Separation/divorce is a family crisis.
Both children and parents are confronted with major
changes in their lives which lead to the redefinition
of the family unit. When a couple separates, issues
need to be resolved regarding family finances and
parenting arrangements. The decisions that are made
concerning parenting have long-lasting implications
for children. In making those decisions, separating
parents and their children are best served by professionals
who have expertise in working with families.
Who are Family Relations Mediators?
Family Relations Mediators are professionals
who are trained and experienced in working with families,
couples and individuals. They are additionally trained
in methods of conflict resolution. Family Relations
Mediators are knowledgeable regarding family relationships,
child development and the dynamics of divorce and
parenting. As a result, they are able to provide parents
with general, factual information regarding children’s
needs during separation and divorce. And when their
expertise alerts them to the need for more specific
parenting information, they guide the parents to the
appropriate professionals. Family Relations Mediators,
with their expertise and knowledge, are well placed
to assist parents and their children with the difficult
task of creating and adjusting to a new family structure
as a separated family.
What do Family Relations Mediators
Family Relations Mediators focus on
the relationships within the family. Marital separation
does not end the relationship among the family members.
The parenting relationship survives the divorce, as
does the relationship between the children and each
of the parents. The quality of these relationships
is critically important for the long-term adjustment
of each of the family members.
Family Relations Mediators consider
the children as central to the mediation process.
In separation and divorce the child is the most vulnerable
party. Decisions are made which affect the child’s
present and future. An important task of the Family
Relations Mediator is to help parents understand the
needs of the children within the context of separation/divorce.
Family Relations Mediators provide
an opportunity for the children to be heard. The mediator
is often the only impartial adult with whom the child
may speak about the separation. Children benefit from
the opportunity to express their feelings without
the fear of hurting either parent. The interaction
between the child and mediator often provides important
feedback to the parents.
Why is the focus on the family
Family Relations Mediators view each family as unique
and changing. Parenting arrangements that work for
one family may not be appropriate for another. Parenting
agreements may be designed with a particular time
frame in mind. Parents have the option of returning
to the Mediator at any time after the separation in
order to negotiate new agreements as the children’s
needs change, or the existing agreement has become
impractical due to changing circumstances. Family
Relations Mediators are also available to consult
on concerns regarding an existing agreement.
parents often continue to work together to make decisions
about the upbringing of their children. Even though
parents are no longer marital partners, they remain
as parenting partners. Learning how to co-parent is
one of the most difficult challenges of separation
and divorce. Family Relations Mediators are trained
to educate parents regarding good co-parenting strategies.
has demonstrated that exposure to ongoing parental
conflict is one of the most adverse factors in affecting
the children in separated families. Children do best
when the parents deal with each other with respect
and are able to communicate effectively regarding
Family Relations Mediator works with the mother and
father to develop and sustain a working relationship
that in turn allows for a good co-parenting relationship.
The aim is for the separating couple to understand
their own needs and reactions to the separation and
divorce. The Family Relations Mediator assists the
parents in learning to relate to each other in new
ways that respect the changing nature of their relationship
with each other. When marital issues are set aside,
parents are often better able to focus on the needs
of their children.
is a Parenting Plan?
Parenting Plan is a working document that has been
arrived at with the agreement of both parents. The
Family Relations Mediator assumes the role of a neutral
third party who assists the parents in making their
own decisions about what is best for their children.
Parenting Plan is arrived at through a process whereby
the Family Relations Mediator assists the parents
in exploring options, understanding the terms and
future impact of their decisions, and anticipating
potential future disagreements.
considering the content of a Parenting Plan, parents
may discuss: where the children will live, how routine
child care will be shared, where the children will
spend holidays, how major decisions will be made (i.e.
medical treatment, education, religion), and other
issues involved in parenting.
completed and agreed upon by both parents, the parties
present the Parenting Plan to their independent lawyers
in order to ensure that each parent’s legal
rights and responsibilities are honored. Lawyers may
use the Parenting Plan in drafting the Separation
Ontario Association of Family Mediators