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Are you thinking of MEDIATION to settle a parenting dispute?


Parents are stressed as they seek to maintain meaningful relationships with their children in the face of separation or divorce.


The fear of losing time with oneís children and the concern for developing the best plan of care causes some parents to actually dispute the matter in a way that contributes to the distress of children.


When the conflict between parents escalates and they cannot determine a parenting plan on their own, many turn to the Courts for a judge to determine the outcome. In such instances both parents are fully at the control of the courts and are bound by the judgeís decision.


Mediation is as an alternative to court.


Whereas in court the parents are bound by the decision of the judge, in mediation the role of the mediator is to help parents communicate and determine their own solution to the parenting of the children Ė a mutual agreement.


A mediator is a specially trained professional usually with expertise in child development, family dynamics and in helping people communicate. Some mediators will share their opinions and offer suggestions in the interest of the children while others may concentrate mainly on helping the parents communicate.


To determine if a mediator is right for you, ask these questions.


1.       What are your credentials?

2.       Will you share your opinions and provide input?

3.       Are you familiar with issues related to child development, step or blended families, violence, abuse, etc?

4.       What is the fee and how many hours will it take?

5.       Will the mediation remain confidential or can information from mediation be used in court?

6.       What is the process of mediation and how do you expect me to prepare?

7.       Will you provide a report?

8.       Are you registered within your profession?

9.       Has there ever been any complaints, charges or convictions against you?


A reasonable mediator should be able to answer these questions directly and appreciate being asked.


Mediation is a good and reasonable approach to developing and settling parenting plans, but there are instances where mediation is often not recommended. Generally mediation is not recommended where a parent is known to be violent or abusive or if a parent is acting in a coercive manner. If parents want to enter mediation where there is a known history of violence or abuse by either parent to each other or any of the children, they are advised to be certain that the mediator is aware, agrees to continue and has specialized knowledge or training on such issues.


Canít sort out a plan for the children and you donít want to go to court? Consider mediation.

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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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27 Sina Street, Georgina, ON, Canada L4P 3E9  Tel: (905) 628-4847  Email: gary@yoursocialworker.com

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