How Do I Start Mediation with My Spouse?

From Clicklaw Wikibooks

Pick the right moment

With one exception, you can't force your ex to go to mediation with you, you can only do it with their agreement. Your ex isn't likely to agree to go and see a mediator if they are still pissed off about a recent argument or still resentful about the end of the relationship.

When you've got the right moment, suggesting mediation can be as simple as calling your ex up and inviting them out for a cup of coffee at the local Tim Hortons:

"Hey look, I think it's time that we sat down and started to talk about things. I know you're still a bit upset about everything, but we really need to make a few decisions and I don't think we're going to be able to do this on our own. I've asked my friend Sally what happened with her and Frank, and she said that they used a mediator."

At this point, it's all about getting your ex to try mediation, and it's your job to sell the idea. Here are some reasons why mediation is a really, really good idea:

  • mediation is much cheaper than hiring lawyers and going to court,
  • the mediator helps you and your ex make a decision together, a decision that you are both as happy with as possible,
  • the decision a judge might make may be one that neither of you are happy with at all,
  • mediation is much cheaper than hiring lawyers and going to court,
  • settlements reached through mediation tend to last a lot longer and people tend to respect their agreements a lot more,
  • mediation will leave you feeling less angry with each other than fighting about things in court,
  • mediation is much cheaper than hiring lawyers and going to court,
  • mediation can be over and done with in a fraction of the time that it takes to go to court, and
  • if I haven't mentioned this, mediation is much cheaper than hiring lawyers and going to court.

Going to trial will cost a minimum of $15,000 in lawyer's fees for a two- or three-day trial. Most family law trials are one or two weeks long, and this figure ignores the costs of all the other things that have to happen before you walk into the courtroom on day one!

If this doesn't get your ex to agree to see a mediator, tell them to ask separated friends, family members and co-workers how much it cost for their court proceedings and how long it took to go from start to finish.

The exception I mentioned above is that if you and your partner have already started an Action in Supreme Court, you may file a Notice to Mediate under the Notice to Mediate (Family) Regulation. This rule provides a mechanism for forcing parties to try mediation before they can have a trial.


Hire a mediator

Now that your ex has agreed to see a mediator with you, strike while the iron is hot: find a mediator and book an appointment immediately.

Before hiring a mediator, make sure you've looked into their background to make sure that the mediator has had special training as a mediator. Lawyers who have training and are accredited to mediate by the Law Society are called family law mediators, and they will usually advertise themselves as such.

When picking a mediator, first ask around. Have any of your friends used a mediator, and what did they think of the mediator? If that doesn't work, call a family law lawyer. Most family law lawyers keep a short list of the mediators they prefer to use, and will be happy to give you their names and phone numbers.

For more information

You can find out more about using mediation in the chapter Resolving Family Law Problems out of Court.


This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Gayle Raphanel, July 5, 2017.



Creativecommonssmall.png JP Boyd on Family Law © John-Paul Boyd and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.


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