We asked Ontario mediators to open their toolboxes and share some of their favourite resources for family mediation in Ontario.
1. Free family mediation
Every person, represented or not, at every attendance at court— case conference, settlement conference, motion, trial, appeal— can access this free government-funded and regulated resource. Provided by highly experienced mediators— usually lawyers or mental health professionals— this is one of the Ontario’s best kept secrets.
Also available is highly subsidized mediation— up to 8 hours— for everyone in Ontario, without needing to be in court to access it. The subsidies are substantial and can apply to people earning up to $100,000. In other words, a great access to justice resource, particularly for those who cannot afford lawyers. Visit the Ministry of the Attorney General for contact info of the service provider near you, including a mediator search.
The majority of separating couples are trying to navigate the system on their own. Although mediation is free in court and subsidized for everyone else, a key barrier to a good negotiated agreement is access to legal advice. These new, targeted legal aid certificates have higher income thresholds than the standard Legal Aid family law certificates—gold to those who need them.
Believe it or not, government websites can be very useful. Justice Canada’s is comprehensive and full of information on youth justice, victim services, family law and more.
4. Where to find mediators and lawyers
JusticeNet is comprehensive and can connect people to legal professionals at a subsidized rate. The Ontario Bar Association offers its members participation in a public, online directory, Find-a-Lawyer.
This government website has free information to help both victims and offenders, organized by province and featuring many online publications from the RCMP. Importantly, the site features lots of practical advice including internet safety (how to hide your web tracks) for those who need to flee family violence.
The Assaulted Women’s Helpline offers a 24-hour telephone and TTY crisis line to all women who have experienced abuse. The helpline provides counselling, emotional support, information and referrals.
This is a shared parenting calendar for divorced and separated parents and offers much more than an online custody calendar or visitation schedule. It incorporates many tools to easily schedule child custody and track parenting time, share important family information, manage expenses as well as create an accurate, clear log of divorce communication. Schedule parenting time, share vital information and manage expenses like un-reimbursed medical expenses.
Divorce can be a big challenge for both children and parents. Though times may be difficult, children can emerge feeling loved and supported. You can all grow through these family changes and discover just how strong you really are. You are not alone. Family, friends, neighbors, and others are there to offer support. Here are some tips, videos, colouring books, and apps to help your child through your divorce. Free.
The Government of Canada also has a useful website for parents, about custody and parenting during and post-divorce.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's leading research centres in the area of addiction and mental health. They have a vast website with tons of resources for when mental health is a factor in mediation and arbitrations.
Authored by Barbara Landau, Lorne H. Wolfson and Niki Landau and published by LexisNexis, this is the bible for FDR professionals. It’s a must-have for family law lawyers and other professionals dealing with families facing separation and divorce, including mental health professionals, financial specialists, clergy, educators, and judges.
You’ll learn about alternative processes that encourage cooperative, timely and cost effective resolutions in depth and helps family law professionals and their clients choose which process is best for them. Plus, it’s 50% off right now.
10. Professional associations and CPD events
Check out the OBA’s upcoming Effectively Utilizing the Continuum of ADR Processes, the CBA’s Parenting After Separation Toolkit and the FDRIO’s Family Dispute Resolution Conference.
The OBA’s Alternative Dispute Resolution and Family Law Sections connect their members to a wide network with regular social events, complimentary programming, practice resources, news, articles and more.
About the author
Jana Schilder is co-founder of The Legal A Team, an agency that provides marketing and public relations services for lawyers and law firms all across Canada.