Solace Settlement Services is dedicated to helping clients find solace by resolving their family law issues out of court. Founder Michelle Roy assists clients to reach creative resolutions of their family law issues that best meet their goals and concerns through settlement negotiation and mediation. She also provides arbitration and domestic violence screening services.
...now browsing by tag
I am happy to announce that effective January 3, 2011 the main office of Solace Settlement Services has moved to 2300 Yonge Street, Suite 2901 (Yonge and Eglinton). For your convenience, settlement meetings, mediations and arbitrations can continue to be booked at one of three additional locations: 25 Sheppard West, 1200 Bay Street or 330 Bay Street.
I am further happy to announce that after completing a 100 hour mediation internship with Hilary Linton of Riverdale Mediation and Dr. Barbara Jo Fidler, I am now an Accredited Family Mediator with the Ontario Association for Family Mediation.
Michelle Roy, Family Law Lawyer, Mediator and Arbitrator
Founder of Solace Settlement Services
This is a true, cautionary tale about two families, the “Jones” family and the “Smith” family. Each family had a mom and a dad and a one year old child.
Both marriages were brief: less than 3 years. Both moms stayed at home caring for the baby while dad worked full time, although Mrs. Smith returned to work after her maternity leave.
After the parents separated, both dads brought a motion seeking a court order setting out temporary care arrangements for the baby. While the circumstances of these families were similar, the outcomes of their motions were entirely different.
Mrs. Jones felt that her child was too young to spend time with the dad alone. She had refused to let him see their daughter. The judge who heard the dad’s motion for access told the mom that she couldn’t prohibit the dad from seeing the baby and ordered access for 4 hours during the week and 5 hours on the weekend, with no overnights, considering the child’s age and attachment to each parent.
In comparison, one day after the Smiths separated, Mr. brought an “urgent” motion seeking sole custody. According to Mrs. Smith, the dad had limited involvement caring for the child until then. Neither party had a lawyer. The judge who dealt with this motion ordered that the baby reside with each parent an equal amount of time, including alternate weekends and overnights.
The Judge acknowledged that the mom had been the parent who had been mostly responsible for caring for the child until the separation. Even so, equal time sharing was ordered. The judge assured the distraught mom that the order was only temporary. The judge recommended that the parties retain lawyers and ordered them to come back to court one week later and to each provide a proposed schedule for the baby’s care.
The markedly different care arrangements the two judges ordered for these two similar families illustrates why separating parents would be wise to try to mediate parenting plans for their children rather than rely on the court system. The results are impossible to predict.
It is in the best interests of children, particularly under the age of 3, that the parents work together to develop a detailed parenting plan, either in mediation or mediation-arbitration. There are many professionals providing this service who also have knowledge about child development issues and how children of different ages and personalities cope with separation and divorce.
A good parenting plan will include living and decision-making arrangements that are consistent with a child’s age, developmental stage and physical and emotional needs, as well as each parent’s care giving experience and skills. It can address the specific concerns of each parent, detailed provisions for transitions between homes, and have a conflict resolution mechanism for any future disagreements.
The result will be a parenting arrangement that both parents feel is better for the child (and probably for them too) than what a judge might order. A classic win-win-win.
Solace Settlement Services is moving! Effective October 1, 2010 the main office of Solace Settlement Services will be 25 Sheppard Avenue West, Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario.
For your convenience, mediations and arbitrations can be booked at 25 Sheppard Avenue West, 1200 Bay Street (Yorkville) and 330 Bay Street (Financial District).
Looking forward to you seeing our new office space!
Mediation allows you to be more in control of the outcome. Going to court and relying on a judge to your settle the family law is a crap shoot. I have walked into court for a motion fully expecting to get result A and wound up getting result D which was never even on the table, leaving both my client and myself bewildered.
Mediation gives you the opportunity to explore many different and creative options perhaps not previously considered. You and your spouse resolve your own disputes during the mediation process; they are not imposed by the Mediator. This generally leads to resolutions that are perceived as being more fair and mutually acceptable and therefore are more likely to be abided by each spouse than orders imposed by a judge or an Arbitrator.
I encourage you to ask any questions you may have about the family mediation process and why you should consider mediating the family law issues that arose after you and your spouse separated.
I am pleased to announce that the website for my company Solace Settlement Services is now live!!
Solace Settlement Services specializes in out of court settlements of family law issues following separation and divorce.
My company provides settlement negotiation, mediation, arbitration and domestic violence screening services.
To learn more about Solace Settlement Services and the services it provides, go to www.solacesettlement.com.
Mediation is a process whereby spouses voluntarily and jointly retain an impartial, professionally trained mediator (often an experienced Family Law lawyer) to assist them in resolving their disputed Family Law issues. The mediator’s role is to act as a facilitator, to help the spouses reach a fair and mutually acceptable agreement.
The mediator can’t provide an opinion, take sides, or make decisions for the spouses. It’s also not the mediator’s role to give legal advice.
Before mediation begins, the spouses must decide whether the mediation will be open or closed. In open mediation, the mediator may be asked by either spouse to write a full report on what happened during the mediation, including the reasons why it was or was not successful. If the mediation isn’t successful and the case proceeds to a court trial, the report may be taken into consideration by the trial judge. In addition, the mediator could be required by either spouse to testify in court.
In closed mediation, the information exchanged between the spouses is kept confidential.
The mediator’s report will only state whether an agreement was reached. Neither spouse can request that the mediator testify in court.
Often the mediator will meet with both spouses together just to hear each spouse’s positions on the disputed issues. When the parties are ready to begin negotiating but where there is hostility between the spouses, he or she will separate the spouses into different rooms. The mediator can then shuttle between the two spouses to negotiate an agreement. Parties who are unhappy with the mediation process can leave it at any time. It won’t affect your legal rights or options.
At the conclusion of a successful mediation, the terms of the settlement must be put into writing and signed at the mediation.
These terms can subsequently be incorporated into a formal Separation Agreement. Mediators are required to advise and encourage clients to seek Independent Legal Advice before finalizing any binding agreement.
Mediation is voluntary and isn’t appropriate for everyone, particularly in cases where there has been a history of violence or abuse. Where one party is afraid of or intimidated by their spouse/partner, mediation will likely not be a viable option.
In order to ensure that cases are appropriate for mediation, mediators are required to screen their clients to ensure that:
- abuse hasn’t occurred that has rendered either party incapable of mediating
- no harm will come to either party or the children as a result of mediating
- the parties’ desire to mediate is voluntary
- any inequality in bargaining power can be managed so as to ensure that negotiations are balanced and procedurally fair
- parties are psychologically ready to mediate and have the capacity to do so
- the complexity of the case doesn’t exceed the mediator’s education, training, and competence