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Mediation explained...



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Mediation to Resolve the Care of Children Between Separated Parent

Separation: The parents no longer live together and may not even like each other. Indeed, there can be much anger and/or sadness.

Separation requires a change in how the family operates. It requires parents to share time and responsibilities for the care of the kids. When intense feelings abound, finding a way to resolve the change in how the family will operate can be difficult.

Mediation offers a place where parents can air their points of view, where dialogue can be facilitated, where decisions can be made respectful of both persons concerns and interests.

While scary to consider, the purpose of mediation is to help parents retain control of the outcome while minimizing the risk of an escalation of conflict.

Working with a single trained individual with experience and expertise in separation/divorce and child related matters, the parents then have an opportunity to make that change in how their family operates with a view to the needs of their children.

The mediator will first meet with each parent individually, screen for matters that may need to be addressed to facilitate the mediation process and offer guidance on how to make mediation a more successful process. All that preparation is key before the parents sit with the mediator together.

When sitting with the mediator (assuming safe to do so), the mediator will facilitate and guide discussion based on the parentsí interests and concerns. Guidance and different points of view may be provided to facilitate the flexible thinking of the parents, in the interest of their children.

When an agreement is reached, it will be written up in a document called a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Parents then take the MOU to respective lawyers to determine they understand the nature and effect of their agreement. The lawyers then draft the MOU into a legally binding document called a Separation Agreement suitable for accountability to the courts.

In order to maintain the integrity of the mediation process, parents will be guided and expected to retain lawyers who will act in the spirit of mediation. The lawyers chosen will be trained in either or both of Collaborative Law and/or mediation and will sign a limited scope agreement. That means they are only retained to comment and advise on the MOU and to draft and notarize the Separation Agreement and that they cannot refer the matter to any other lawyer, within or beyond their firm. The value of this approach is to minimize risk of conflict of interest on behalf of the lawyer and facilitate return to the mediation process for any issue arising with the MOU.

If specific legal advice is required during the mediation process, parents will also agree to use either a single neutral lawyer, co-retained, or individual Collaboratively and/or mediation trained lawyers to offer only legal information on a limited scope basis with the further understanding they cannot otherwise take on the case themselves and/or refer within their firm or to another lawyer. This too is to limit concern for conflict of interest which may undermine the intent of mediation.

If at any point in the mediation process, either parent wants to opt out of the mediation process in favor of litigation, they may do so upon reasonable notice to the other.

The mediation process is closed, meaning that matters shared and discussed in mediation cannot be used in a litigation or arbitration process.

The whole intent of this mediation process is to facilitate attention towards resolving the matters of dispute as reasonably as possible and without the threat of court action.  


As a social worker, I am respectful of people's different income levels. As such, the fee is set on a fee-for-service basis using a sliding scale that ranges from $150 - $400 per hour. The actual fee then is determined by your joint income, or may be determined by your assets. You will be charged from the beginning of the scheduled appointment time, even if you are late. Further, time will be taken at the beginning of the first meeting for me to present my qualifications, experience and approach to counselling so that service is provided on an informed basis. This is deemed part of the time provided and billed for. Payment is by cash, eTransfer or cheque.

Fee Schedule (based on joint income):

 Income  Fee/hour
0   -    $75,000  $150.00
 $75,000 - $100,000  $175.00
 $100,000 - $125,000  $200.00
 $125,000 - $150,000  $225.00
 $150,000 - $175,000  $250.00
 $175,000 - $200,000   $275.00
 $200,000 - $250,000  $300.00
 $250,000 - $350,000  $350.00
 $350,000 +  $400.00


Third Party Payments (EAP and other Benefit Providers):

Pleased be advised that I do not accept payment by third party payers (benefit or EAP providers) whatsoever. People are directly responsible for payment of services as per the information above at the time of service. A receipt will be provided with which persons can seek reimbursement from their EAP or benefit provider. I take no responsibility for your reimbursement. Reimbursement remains a matter between you and your benefit or EAP provider. 

If you do seek reimbursement through your benefit or EAP provider and I am called to verify the charge, I will do so with your implied consent. My disclosure will be limited to advising of my credentials as well as verifying the billing information, service provided and persons served. Please note, mediation is a clinical-legal service and may not be covered.  No information regarding the nature or content of information discussed will be provided without signed consent, for which you will be charged as per the time required.



  1. Mediation is provided on a private and discreet basis.
  2. Service is provided in the safety and comfort of my home-office.
  3. Daytime appointments are available Monday through Thursday. Evening appointments are available Monday through Wednesday. I typically set my appointment times for 9:30 am, 1:30 pm and 7:00 pm. The appointment times can be somewhat negotiable. I do not offer weekend appointments.
  4. Persons may self-refer. Please call.
  5. Persons are expected to attend sober for appointments.
  6. Violence of any fashion will not be condoned.


All matters remain confidential with the following exceptions:

  1. Any past or imminent harm or abuse to a child currently younger than 18 years of age will be reported to proper authorities.
  2. Any imminent threat of harm to self or to another adult will be reported either to proper authorities and/or to other persons who may be required to intervene as necessary.
  3. Mediation is provided on a closed basis, meaning you must agree that you or your designate or proxy will not call me to court or ask to provide a report for court purposes.
  4. For quality assurance and in case of concern or complaint about service, all meetings will be recorded.
  5. Up to an hour can be scheduled between appointments to avoid meeting anyone while entering or exiting.
  6. Information about yourself can be used to pursue payment in the event of non-payment.


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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW



(905) 628-4847


Gary Direnfeld is a child-behaviour expert, a social worker, and the author of Raising Kids Without Raising Cane. Gary not only helps people get along or feel better about themselves, but also enjoys an extensive career in public speaking. He provides insight on issues ranging from child behaviour management and development; to family life; to socially responsible business development. Courts in Ontario, Canada consider Gary an expert on matters pertaining to child development, custody and access, family/marital therapy and social work.


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For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.


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20 Suter Crescent, Dundas, ON, Canada L9H 6R5  Tel: (905) 628-4847  Email: gary@yoursocialworker.com

Counselling and assessment services serving Hamilton, Dundas, Ancaster, Stoney Creek, Burlington, Brantford,

Oakville, Grimsby, Waterdown and other local areas.