Mediation in Ontario and Collaborative Family Law in Ontario – How are they different?

Family law in Ontario is complex and families should seek legal advice before deciding what system of family law in Ontario they wish to use. The choices are:

  • negotiation between spouses;
  • collaborative family law;
  • family law mediation;
  • traditional negotiation (this is different from collaborative family law or family law mediation);
  • going to Court.

The two systems that work best for families are Collaborative family law (some people call it collaborative divorce) and family law mediation.

Let’s first examine collaborative family law in Ontario, which has been around for over 10 years. In collaborative family law, the spouses commit to disclosing all relevant financial information, and both lawyers are present during all meetings. Also, to increase the chances of success, collaborative divorce provides a mandatory cooling off period before anyone is allowed to go to court.  In addition, a client cannot use his or her collaborative divorce lawyer to go to court; they need to retain a different lawyer, which makes it harder to transition from collaborative law to court.

A collaborative divorce lawyer has training in interest-based negotiation and a collaborative divorce lawyer is committed to seeing both spouses reach a deal that is fair.

Collaborative divorce law is the most advanced of all of the separation processes.

We will now look at mediation in Ontario, which has been around for over 35 years. In family law mediation, the spouses work with one neutral professional to guide them through discussions.

Mediation in Ontario is voluntary, which means that both spouses need to consent to participate in family law mediation. At the end of the family law mediation process, the mediator will prepare a document that will contain the agreements reached by the couple. Generally, each spouse will sign the document either on their own, or with their respective lawyer, but not with the mediator because the mediator cannot give legal advice about the agreements. For this purpose, working with a collaborative divorce lawyer in the mediation process will increase the chances of success.

One of the major differences between collaborative divorce law and mediation is that in collaborative divorce law each party has a collaborative divorce lawyer present during the negotiations whereas in mediation, the lawyers are not always present when the neutral mediator who works with the parties.

Mediation in Ontario and collaborative family law in Ontario are very well established and there are several competent practitioners.

If you are looking for information online by searching, “Collaborative divorce lawyer Toronto”, click on: If you are looking for information about collaborative family law in Ontario, go to By typing,  “collaborative divorce lawyer Toronto”, you can find other useful information through the international association’s website (

It is harder to find information about mediation in Ontario because not all mediators belong to associations. Lawyers who do mediation will indicate they do so on their websites, and some lawyers will register with the Ontario Association of Family Law mediators at

On the contrary, if you are looking for collaborative divorce lawyer Toronto, the lawyers trained in collaborative divorce law are organized in local collaborative divorce associations, which can be easier to find.

If you are facing a challenge involving family law in Ontario, first look for mediation services in Ontario or collaborative divorce lawyer Toronto. This will give you the opportunity to resolve your separation using the two friendliest methods of addressing family law in Ontario: collaborative family law in Ontario and mediation in Ontario.

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