Report No. 257
Mediation in Child Custody Cases
4.1 Mediation refers to a method of non-binding dispute resolution with the assistance of a neutral third party who tries to help the disputing parties to arrive at a negotiated settlement, Afcons Infra. Ltd. v. Cherian Varkey Constn., (2010) 8 SCC 24, ¶ 8. In the context of child custody, the focus of mediation is not to determine who is right or wrong, but rather to establish a solution that meets a family's needs and is in the best interest of the child.83
The benefits of mediating a child custody dispute are that both parents have input in determining custody and access arrangements for their children; the children feel more secure knowing that their parents are willing to continue working together to resolve family problems; parents are in the best position to decide what their children need; it helps parents develop some trust in each other, which allows for future negotiation on issues that arise; it is easier to work with a plan that parents have formulated themselves, rather than one that is imposed by the court; and it can help avoid a long and costly court battle.84 Mediation reportedly produces better outcomes for children after divorce.85
83 Terri Garner, Child Custody Mediation: A Proposed Alternative to Litigation, 1989 J. DISP. RES. 139, 139-40.
84 Family Conciliation Services-Frequently Asked Questions, Manitoba Family Services,
http://www.gov.mb.ca/fs/childfam/family_conciliation_faq.html (last visited Mar. 23, 2015).
85 Danielle Gauvreau, Mediation versus Litigation: Examining Differences in Outcomes amongst the Children of Divorce, RIVERDALE MEDIATION,
http://www.riverdalemediation.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/Gauvreau-Mediation-vs-litigation.pdf (last visited Mar. 23, 2015).