"I know you think you know what I said, but what you don't know is that what you think I said is not what I meant." Author unknown

As relationships deteriorate and disharmony builds, people's mutual and/or individual efforts to improve their situation can become frustratingly ineffective. Growing animosity can leave people unwilling or unable to genuinely hear and understand what their partner is trying to say.

Sometimes, people who are able to get along reasonably well, and are able to agree on most things, still reach an impasse on certain things and benefit from using a neutral third party to help them reach a consensus.

Canadian Co-Parenting Centres offer mediation services that help people develop solutions that best suit their family's circumstances, and that best meets the needs and interests of each family member and all family members collectively.

There are various different styles and approaches to mediation.  Our professionals endeavour to adjust their style to meet the needs of the family, and in some instances, the mediation style may vary with subject matter.  For example, when working with couples who have separated, mediating a parenting schedule would usually proceed differently from mediating the distribution of assets.

Usually, an "interest based mediation" approach is used.  In this approach, the issues are clearly identified, then each person's interests are explored in depth.  As each person expresses what is important to them, what their fears are, and what their hopes are, they begin to feel understood.  Generally, common interests emerge, and this is particularly true when mediating issues related to the children.  Once there is a clear understanding of what everyone's interests are, a goal is established.  That goal is to collectively come up with a solution that best meets all of the identified interests.  At this point, an environment of cooperation and collaboration has either formed or is beginning to form.  The brainstorming efforts are then much more constructive and targeted at a win-win solution.

Sometimes, despite everyone's best efforts, an impasse is reached.  Or, perhaps one person was not genuinely committed to the process and was just "doing the right thing" while they prolonged the status quo.  In these situations, a med-arb arrangement is useful.

In a med-arb arrangement, there is an understanding at the outset that if an impasse is reached, the mediator will make a decision.  While the potential of the mediator becoming an arbitrator may influence each person's behaviour and disclosure in the mediation process, it is often reassuring to know that the issue or issues will not be left outstanding.  Closure is an important achievement, and on issues related to children, such as where they will go to school or what activity they will sign up for, a timely decision has to be made.  Without a med-arb arrangement or a co-parenting coordination agreement in place, parents often resort to a strategic, and essentially manipulative, strategy to implement what they individually want and think is best.

Note that while mediation is typically used when couples have separated, it can be used to assist families that are still together and who intend on staying together, but are wrestling with a particular issue and have been unable to reach an agreement.