Be the one helping people resolve conflicts, understand each other’s views and make decisions that are in their best interests.
Family mediation is a process for resolving family disputes in a collaborative manner. Family members involved in the dispute engage in a private, informal setting where the family mediator facilitates a process that promotes communication and empowers the parties to design an agreement that meets their needs.
Mediation focuses on the interests and needs of the people involved rather than on their demands. The mediator does not offer solutions or legal advice; rather, they help participants define their problems so they can work to resolve them together. The dispute is settled only if all of the parties agree to the settlement.
These matters generally relate to separation and divorce, parenting arrangements, child and spousal support and other matters related to the Family Law Act (FLA). Family mediators in BC work within the scope of the BC (FLA) and the Federal Divorce Act. Family mediators must be very familiar with this and other legislation, yet they are not required to have a legal background. Other matters not related to the FLA include elder mediation, parent-teen mediation, and family business mediation. No legislation governs these other areas of mediation involving families.
Many family mediators who work in the family dispute resolution field are in private practice. Others are employed by the BC Government as Family Justice Counsellors who deliver family mediation services as part of their job. They work in Family Justice Centres located in communities across the province to provide services to British Columbians going through separation or divorce. There is no charge for their services.
- Questioning and clarifying skills to grasp both the facts and the areas of controversy
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Organizational skills to manage information
- Emotional intelligence to understand the underlying emotions
- Summarizing skills
- Ability to remain impartial and to act fairly
Family mediators dealing with matters governed by BC’s FLA must be qualified as dispute resolution professionals, and must meet minimum training and practice standards. Section 4 of the FLA Regulations outline these qualifications. Most family mediators belong to Mediate BC’s Family Mediation Roster, and/or are certified by Family Mediation Canada.