Getting Started

A. Family Mediation

So you have read over the information on this website and have decided to try mediation! Congratulations! Here is what you need to do now:

1. Documents

Please read and sign the Agreement to Mediate. Obtain advice from your lawyer if you have any questions before signing it. You and the other person/people involved will also need to complete the Confidential Preliminary Intake Form. Again, please have your lawyer call us or review the form if you wish to do so; and please make sure your lawyer knows you are initiating the mediation process. We will always want to talk with both lawyers to learn as much as we can from them about what they think will work best for you. Please email or fax the completed intake form and the signing page of the Agreement to Mediate to (We will have you sign a full copy of the agreement when you come in for your intake meeting.)

2. Intake meeting

You may select a mediator, or you can ask us to assign the person we think is best suited to your case. We will then schedule your intake meetings with your mediator. Each party will first meet individually, privately and confidentially with the mediator. Often the lawyers do not attend this meeting, but sometimes they do. The intake meeting is an important part of the mediation process. It helps us ensure that the case is appropriate for mediation, and also helps you and us know if any steps need to be taken before you can have a productive and effective mediation. It also ensures that the right person has been assigned to your case. This meeting lasts between 60 and 90 minutes.

As Riverdale is a teaching practice, we always have several interns. Our interns have taken mediation training with us and are often skilled and experienced family law professionals. An intern is assigned to every file. Interns will observe and often participate in the mediation process in accordance with their background, skill and ability. Our interns are governed by the same strict confidentiality and professional standards as our mediators.

You can schedule your meeting by checking the available dates of the mediator on the website and then sending an e-mail to to set it up.

3. Bring your preferred method of payment!

We charge a flat rate for the intakes; the rate varies depending on the person conducting the meeting. For our current fee schedule, please contact

Please bring your preferred method of payment with you for all meetings. We accept Visa, Mastercard, debit, cheque, or cash. We usually do not require retainers from our mediation clients; but we do require you to “pay as you go.”

4. Do I need my lawyer to attend the mediation?

Most of our mediation work is referred by family and collaborative lawyers. It is always our preference to have lawyers at the mediations. However, not everyone can afford to pay their lawyer to attend. Sometimes the client wants his or her lawyer present for the intake meetings and for specific parts of the mediation. We will work with both parties and their lawyers in whatever way they wish.

5. The mediation.

Your first joint meeting will be set up for a time that is convenient for both parties, their lawyers, the mediator and the intern. We suggest that, if your mediator has an online scheduling calendar, the lawyers consult together and find dates that work for them and their clients and are also showing as available on the mediator’s calendar. If lawyers are not involved, or if the mediator does not have an online calendar, please send your preferred choices to We will do our best to accommodate your preferences. Half day mediations are from 10 am-2 pm or from 2 pm-6 pm. We generally do not start a mediation earlier than 9 am or later than 2 pm. We do not schedule mediations on weekends; evenings may be available on request.

B. Family Mediation-Arbitration and Arbitration

1. Follow Steps 1-5 Above

All clients choosing family arbitration will follow steps 1-5 above. All parties attending arbitration processes are required, by law, to first participate in “screening” for power imbalances before signing the Arbitration Agreement. For mediation-arbitration processes, we conduct our own screening process, and it forms part of the individual intake meetings described above. For arbitration-alone processes, we will provide the lawyers with the names of the third party “screeners”  with whom we work, and you will need to each meet separately with this person before signing the Arbitration Agreement.

2. Sign the Arbitration Agreement

The lawyers must finalize the Arbitration Agreement before the first full mediation meeting takes place. This agreement is found here. The parties and their lawyers will need to review and finalize this template to accord with the process they wish to apply to them. It will probably take the lawyers at least two weeks to finalize this agreement, so make sure you leave enough time for them to do so. Once the agreement is signed, the mediator-arbitrator and the lawyers will meet in person or by phone to determine the procedural details of the arbitration process.

3. Provide a Retainer

In arbitration or mediation-arbitration we require retainers. The amount will be determined after the individual intake meetings and will generally be payable at the first mediation meeting, to be held for the arbitration. The amount will depend on the complexity of the case.

C. Civil Mediation

Please check the calendar on the website and then contact to schedule your mediation. Once the mediator is assigned to the file there will be a conference call among counsel and/or the parties to determine preparatory requirements. Please review and sign the Civil Agreement to Mediate and send it to