For Immediate Release
May 5, 2012
Ministry of Justice
Mediation expanded for family
[Updated May 9, 2012]
VICTORIA – A mediation process that helps families keep legal disputes out of court has been expanded provincewide, Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond announced today.
Amendments to the notice to mediate (family) regulation under the Law and Equity Act require parties involved in B.C. Supreme Court family disputes to attend at least one mediation session if anyone involved in the dispute requests it. A mediator will meet each party in advance to discuss how mediation works and exchange documents or expert reports. The act will permit exceptions if mediation is unsafe.
The family mediation project began in Nanaimo in 2007 to encourage families to reach agreements without the time, cost and emotional burden of going to court. It expanded to Victoria and Duncan in 2008 and was adopted in Vancouver and New Westminster in 2009.
Mediators are available throughout British Columbia. If the parties are unable to agree on a mediator, one will be appointed from a roster of mediators registered with a roster organization such as Mediate BC.
The provincewide expansion of the regulation is one of a series of steps government is taking to give families involved in legal disputes alternatives to court. Most significantly, the Province passed a new Family Law Act last November that places the best interests of children first when making any decisions involving the child and modernizes the justice system by addressing issues B.C. families are facing today. The Family Law Act is expected to come into force in 2013. These changes are among initiatives government is taking to achieve efficiencies and deal with growing resource pressures on the justice system.
Attorney General Shirley Bond –
“Mediation is a real alternative for families who don’t want to go to the expense of a trial, but want assistance to make decisions about their divorce or separation. This is the type of progressive, non-court based reforms we envisioned when the Family Law Act was being modernized.”
Kari D. Boyle, executive director, Mediate BC –
“We support expansion of the notice to mediate (family) as an additional way for families to resolve their problems quickly and affordably. Mediators can promote understanding and assist families to reach their own tailor-made solutions through an informal and flexible process that preserves relationships.”
· The parties must either agree on a mutually acceptable mediator within 14 days after the notice is served or one will be appointed from a roster of registered mediators.
· The session must occur within 60 days of appointing a mediator and at least 14 days before the trial date. If the parties cannot reach agreement at the first session, mediation can either continue or they can go to court. The mediator may end the process if they conclude it will not be productive or is inappropriate.
· Families can obtain independent legal advice before participating if they desire it.
· Unless otherwise agreed to, mediation costs are shared equally.
· Ministry of Justice family justice counsellors can offer free mediation to lower-income families who do not require assistance with dividing shared property.
· Notice to mediate regulation:
· The regulation is also available in PDF format to be faxed or mailed: http://bit.ly/IataFY
· Mediate BC: www.mediatebc.com
· Ministry of Justice family justice counsellors:
Ministry of Justice
Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect