Family mediation guide details process for beginners

By Staff

A new family mediation guide released by St. Catharines family lawyer and mediator Sharon Silbert offers readers a step-by-step look at how to negotiate mutually acceptable agreements while saving money and maintaining control of the outcome.

Silbert, whose practice is devoted exclusively to consensual dispute resolution, decided to create the guide, called Getting the Most out of Family Mediation, to fill a noticeable gap in free literature available to individuals considering mediation.

“I thought it would be really helpful to have something people could refer to that’s not just a long narrative, and that’s more focused on the client’s perspective of what to expect through the family mediation process,” Silbert tells

The 14-page guide begins with basic definitions of family mediation and mediation in general, along with a graph titled How Does Mediation Compare to Other Family Law Processes? The chart balances items like cost, whether a third party is involved, parties’ control over outcome and client involvement with the legal processes available, from direct negotiations to mediation to litigation. The results clearly show co-operative processes result in less costs and more involvement from parties, while adversarial processes are more expensive and include little client participation.

The guide, which uses illustrations to aid in explanations, breaks down the mediation process into five steps for clients, and discusses how lawyers fit in. It also touches on when mediation may not be the right choice for a family, noting former partners must be able to engage fully in difficult conversations in order for the process to work.

Mediation may not be the best option, says the guide, if there is a history of family violence, substance abuse, or serious concerns about mental health issues.

The target readers for the text are people considering family mediation or those in the early stages of the process, says Silbert.

“Mediation is not the type of thing you see on TV because it’s a private process inherently,” she says. “If you haven’t gone through it before or you don’t have a close friend who went through it, how are you supposed to know what it’s all about?”

To download Getting the Most out of Family Mediation, visit Silbert’s website.