A mediator is a person who is specially trained to help people resolve conflict. Unlike a judge, a mediator doesn't impose solutions on people, but helps them to find their own solutions to their problems.
Some, but not all, mediators are also lawyers. Whether or not the mediator in a family law case is a lawyer, he or she should have special training about family dynamics and family law issues. Before hiring a mediator, ask about his or her training and qualifications.
Note that mediators are supposed to be neutral and can't provide legal advice, even if he or she is also a lawyer.
Private mediators charge for their services. But if you can resolve your issues using mediation, it's generally much less expensive than going to court. Family justice counsellors offer free mediation services to people with low incomes in certain cases.
How do I find a mediator?
You can find mediators in several different places:
- The Mediate BC website — contains a list of qualified family mediators and more information about mediation and how it works
- The Family Mediation Canada website — information about qualified family mediators
- A family justice counsellor
- Your local legal aid office
- The Lawyer Referral Service
Can I make my spouse attend mediation?
In most cases, mediation is voluntary. That is, both you and the other party have to agree to participate.
If you've started a case in Supreme Court, you can take steps to require your spouse to attend a mediation session. You do this by serving your spouse with a document called a Notice to Mediate. See Making mediation happen in a family law case in Supreme Court and also How to serve Supreme Court documents (for how to serve the document).
For more information on what mediators do, see:
- JusticeBC's Family Justice Information and Support page on mediators, and
- the video clip excerpted from the Continuing Legal Education Society video An Inside Look at Family Mediation.