Separation & Divorce

This video was generously funded by The Law Foundation of BC and created by The Sequence Group.

Mediation is a flexible and informal process that many find considerably faster, more affordable, and less stressful than pursuing court-related channels for their separation and divorce. 

In mediation, you control the outcome. The mediator assists you and your spouse to ensure you have productive conversations and make the decisions you need to move forward. For couples with children, mediators can help you develop an effective co-parenting plan. They can also assist with the division of family assets and debts.

How to Get Started 

Normally, Mediation can be broken down into 4 steps. At any point, it's good to also be prepared and informed of your legal rights. Scroll down for a list of resources.

Mediator Process

Preparing for Family Mediation

There are a few things that you can do to prepare yourself for mediation that will help the process go smoothly.

It is always a good idea to seek legal advice so you know and understand your rights and obligations when it comes to separation and divorce.

There are several resources available to you:

  • MyLawBC 
    A website that will walk you through solutions to a series of common legal problems. There are pathways for separation, divorce and family matters; abuse and family violence; missed mortgage payments; and wills and personal planning.
  • Dial-A-Law 
    A website that features free information on the law in British Columbia in over 130 topic areas. The information is reviewed by lawyers and updated regularly. 
  • BC Family Unbundling Roster 
    Traditionally, family lawyers offer a package of services including everything from consultation to trial. This can be extremely expensive. Unbundling legal services lets you choose what legal assistance you want. 
  • Lawyer Referral Service 
    This service, offered by Access Pro Bono, connects you with a lawyer for up to 30 minutes for FREE.
  • Access Pro Bono 
    Clients with low household income can access free legal services and advice.
  • Family LawLINE 
    Low-income people with family law issues can receive free legal advice by phone.
  • Family Duty Counsel 
    Designed to assist people with lower incomes representing themselves in court, these lawyers provide legal information and can offer advice.

Additional legal information resources for families:

To prepare for your mediation, you will want to gather any supporting documents for the issues to be discussed. Some of these documents may include:

  • Court Orders / Written Agreements
  • Income statements / Personal Tax Assessments
  • Property Assessments
  • Investments / Debt and Banking Info
  • Parenting After Separation worksheets; and
  • Separated with Children-Dealing with the Finances worksheets

The Justice Education Society holds free workshops to help parents and families going through separation and divorce. Learn more about these workshops here.

  • Parenting After Separation
  • Separated with Children – Dealing with the Finances

Mediation is all about clear communication. If your mediator does not speak your language, or you are not comfortable in the mediator’s language, you may wish to have an interpreter. Interpreters are trained to provide accurate translations for clear communication.

Another family member may be able to assist you, but it may be difficult for them to provide clear and unbiased translations. Mediate BC encourages you to consider your options for a good experience.

The Society of Translators and Interpreters of British Columbia can help connect you with interpreters.

Being prepared for family mediation will help the process be as effective and cost-efficient as possible. Your family mediator will be able to help you identify what you need to be as prepared as possible.

About 80% of [Canadian] lawyers agreed that they prefer to use mediation whenever possible, they prefer mediation over litigation, and their clients prefer mediation over litigation. Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family

Select a Mediator

Mediate BC has a list of mediators ready to help you. 

Find a Family Mediator

Should you have concerns regarding the mediation process, Mediate BC has set Standards of Conduct and a Complaint Process.

Screening in Family Dispute Resolution

Family mediators start by meeting with each person involved in a family dispute in private individual sessions. Part of these initial meetings is to make sure that each participant feels physically and emotionally safe and is able to negotiate effectively. The mediator will design a process to meet these needs and support the participants through mediation.  

If the mediator finds that mediation may not be the best way to move forward, they will refer you to a more appropriate process and connect you with resources.

Screening is a requirement of all family dispute resolution professionals under the Family Law Act.