2. Agree on a mediator and arbitrator

You and your partner need to agree on who to hire as your mediator and as your arbitrator.

You must also agree on if you want:

  • the mediator and the arbitrator to be different people, or
  • the same person to act as a mediator and then, if needed, as arbitrator

Some people don’t like their mediator knowing what they are willing to agree to if that person can later decide things as their arbitrator.

Other people want their mediator to know what they are willing to agree to. This option can save time and costs because the mediator knows the legal issues before acting as the arbitrator.

Your issues may help you decide who to hire. Lawyers and retired judges often mediate property or support related issues. Social workers and mental health professionals mediate and issues. These used to be called and .

A mediator doesn’t work for you the way a lawyer does. Mediators balance your needs with your partner’s needs. They don’t have to keep their discussions with you private from your partner, like your lawyer does.

But you should still feel comfortable with your mediator and arbitrator. Before hiring a mediator or arbitrator see if they:

  • have experience dealing with cases like yours
  • listen to you
  • make you feel comfortable and not rushed
  • explain things in a way you can understand
  • answer your questions about the process
  • work with a disability you may have

Find a mediator

Each family court location in Ontario offers subsidized mediation services. You can get up to 8 hours of for a fee that is based on each person’s income. You can use this service whether or not your have a court case. And if you have a court case, you can get up to 2 hours of mediation for free at the court.

You can find mediators with lower fees through JusticeNet. JusticeNet is a not-for-profit that helps people in Ontario whose income is too high to get legal aid and too low to afford standard legal fees.

There are several organization that set standards for mediators in Ontario. You can find an accredited or certified mediator through:

An accredited or certified mediator has completed special training and has professional liability insurance. This means that they have insurance in case someone sues them for not mediating properly.

Your lawyer might also recommend a mediator.

Find an arbitrator

Family arbitrators must have special training and follow rules about family law arbitrations. Lawyer arbitrator must have special training on screening. Screening is discussed in Step 3 below. Non-lawyer arbitrators, who may be professionals like psychologists or social workers, must have special training on screening and in family law.

One way to find a certified family arbitrator online is through the ADR Institute of Ontario. Click on the ADR Connect link. Arbitrators listed here must also get at least 10 hours of extra training every two years and must have professional liability insurance. This means that they have insurance in case someone sues them for not arbitrating properly.

Your lawyer might also recommend an arbitrator.

Or you may be able to find a list of arbitrators in your community through your local Family Law Information Centre (FLIC).

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