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Family & Divorce Mediation:
A safe place to have difficult conversations

We mediate cases in Toronto, the GTA, across Ontario and in other provinces now that all of our mediation work is online.

Family mediation is a private and confidential way to settle your family law matters without going to court and without having to pay lawyers to negotiate for you.

Why is our family mediation process so effective?

  1. Because it begins and ends with what is important to you and your family,
  2. Because it is respectful, non-judging and empowering and
  3. Because it is affordable, focused and informed.

Our experience has shown us again and again that what most people want is a reasonable opportunity to work out a settlement that they can both live with.

We work with both clients to maximize available resources for the benefit of your family. We have helped many hundreds of families mediate acceptable and even amicable outcomes since we opened our doors in 2001.

Agreeing to mediation does not mean you have to be in the same room with the other party or even speak with them. We will find out how you will be most comfortable and effective as a negotiator and structure your mediation to meet your needs and those of the other person.

Our priority is to empower each person to be able to reach the best agreement they can for themselves and their children, in the best way possible for them.

If a settlement is reached in mediation, we can draft either an outline of the terms of settlement (known as a Mediation Summary Report) or, if both clients will be seeking Independent Legal Advice, a draft domestic contract such as a Separation Agreement.

Family Mediation Can Help Settle:

  • parenting plans for children
  • decision-making disputes
  • mobility cases
  • child support
  • spousal support
  • income determination
  • property valuation
  • property division
  • marriage and co-habitation agreements
  • high conflict separations
  • Childrens’ special needs issues
  • Unique challenges facing LGBTQ2+ families
  • Extended family disputes
  • Family cottage and inheritance disputes
  • Family partnership agreements

Before we meet

Review the "Get Started Here" guide

Your Child’s Voice is Important!

In all our mediations involving children, we take a strong child-centred approach.

Our mediators are skilled at ensuring that the views and preferences of every child are appropriate considered in mediations involving them.

Where the parents agree about what is best for their children, we will ensure that this perspective it is noted and respected appropriately.

Where parents cannot agree, we will ask the parents for their views on the best way to include the voice of their children in the mediation, and can also recommend a range of options if asked.

We encourage parents to agree on the best option for them and their children. Options can include:

  • having a trained professional interview the children and report back to the mediator and clients
  • working with the Office of the Children’s Lawyer
  • jointly retaining a professional assessor
  • agreeing on counselling for the children
  • hearing from teachers, medical professionals or other important professionals in the child’s life
  • involving extended family and/or community members in the mediation
  • including other culturally relevant sources of information relating to the children.

Mediation can allow creative and informative ways for parents and their children to seek and share information about the best interests of each child, with the goal of reaching parenting plans that are appropriate for each child in their own circumstances.


Why choose family mediation?

Ending an intimate relationship is an overwhelming experience. It is complicated—emotionally, financially, legally and procedurally. Many people do not know where to begin. Few want to hire lawyers for a battle, but no one wants to feel vulnerable and taken advantage of. Most people just want a fair settlement that gets them and their children what they need.

Today’s separating spouses have many options, including mediation, litigation, collaborative practice, arbitration, negotiating with legal professionals, or doing it themselves. It is important to have an individual meeting with a mediator, before you choose mediation, to decide whether the process is the right one for you. Some people will retain a lawyer to help them in the mediation while others feel comfortable mediating on their own.

Whichever way it is done, mediation should be a fair, safe, balanced, informed and affordable way to resolve difficult problems. Our team of mediators is ready to help lawyers and their clients settle the toughest cases in the best possible way.

What are the benefits of mediation?

Mediation empowers the parties to resolve all aspects of their dispute in a way that is best for them. Mediation respects the needs of each person involved including extended family members. Family mediation allows parents to stay focused on the needs of their children. Mediation is less adversarial, less stressful and less expensive than going to court. Research shows that people who use mediation are usually more satisfied with both the process and the outcome than people who use the courts to resolve their disputes.

How does the mediation process start?

Please complete a Confidential Intake Form and have your partner do the same. This will help us prepare for your individual, confidential individual meeting, which you will schedule with our staff. At this meeting we will ask you questions and you can ask us questions to help us decide whether mediation is the right process choice for your family. Mediation is not always the best process for everyone. We will want to know if you are both ready to mediate, if you have the information you need, if the process will be legally, emotionally and physically safe, and if there are any steps that need to be taken before you can start.

After the individual meetings, what happens in mediation?

You will both need to sign our Family Agreement to Mediate. Please review it carefully before you come in for your individual meeting in case you have questions. We will usually have an intern present as ours is a teaching practice. We will then conduct one or more sessions with you, either together or in separate rooms, to help you negotiate a settlement of the issues that are important to both of you and your children.

What does a mediator do?

A mediator is a referee, a knowledgeable guide, a source of legal information ( but not legal advice), an impartial and realistic “sounding board”, and an expert in helping people in distress communicate better.

A mediator provides a fair and safe process for people to assess their needs, stay focused, communicate effectively, and find a satisfactory outcome. Mediators are neutral towards all parties but directive when it comes to providing a fair and balanced process.

A mediator will help parties work through proposed solutions to ensure they are realistic and workable. Although a mediator will provide legal information, they cannot give legal advice.

What documents do I need to bring to the mediation?

If there are any financial issues, we will ask both of you to complete and swear a Form 13.1 Financial Statement. You should bring any other documents that you or the other person will need in order to have an informed negotiation.

How do I prepare for mediation?

We have articles in our Resources section to help you prepare for your mediation. Mediation is a negotiation; you should come ready to negotiate. This means spending the time you need before the mediation to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your legal arguments; the practicality of any proposed solutions you have; and the range of settlement options you could accept. We always recommend that you consult with a family lawyer and any other professionals whose advice you need. In complex cases we may recommend that these professionals attend the mediation for multi- disciplinary support and advice.

How many meetings are there, generally?

It depends on the complexity of the case and the personalities of the people in the room. How well prepared each of you is, and how ready you are to settle the case, will impact the process. We find that most mediations are completed in under 12 hours of meeting time.

Will the mediator create a Separation Agreement?

Our mediators will draft agreements and parenting plans for you, provided that you will be taking them to a lawyer for legal advice. Otherwise, we will provide you with a Memorandum of Understanding of the issues that were resolved.

What does family mediation cost?

The mediators who work with Riverdale charge a range of hourly rates, which is usually shared by the parties as they may agree.

Our flat rate fees for intake meetings, half and full-day mediations are found on our website here. We ask all clients to first confirm their meeting date with the professional they are working with, and then visit the website to book and pay for that meeting in advance.

Do I need a lawyer?

We recommend that everyone in mediation has access to good legal and other professional advice. You will need to decide what advice you need; we can help you make that assessment but cannot provide advice ourselves.

If you are close to being able to reach a settlement with the other party we strongly recommend that your lawyer attend the mediation with you. Lawyers are invaluable in helping clients resolve tough issues and can draft Minutes of Settlement there and then to ensure your matter is completed properly.


I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank-you for your help and guidance yesterday. You were a very calming presence in the room, in a situation that could have been even more heated than it was at times.

It was a pleasure to have Hilary facilitate a mediation between my ex and myself. I was made to feel comfortable throughout the process. Hilary made sure I understood everything throughout the mediation. I had the opportunity to meet separately with my lawyer or advisor as well as Hilary and her intern and associates all of whom were very capable and knowledgeable. Hilary’s intern eloquently confirmed that it was indeed a successful mediation as each of us left unhappy but relieved that it was over without the tremendous expense of an extensive and expensive trial and continued stress. I felt supported by Hilary throughout and am so grateful for having gone through the mediation process with her and her team.

I wanted to let you know that we have finalized our separation. I have learned much from this experience — the most valuable lesson is: get to know who is the true person you are negotiating with, and then determine the negotiating strategy. Your advice was right on — figure out what is it that I need. Thanks again for your help and all the best to you. I will definitely call on you should we need to go through dispute resolution again.

I really appreciated what you have crafted and the clarity and detail of the draft agreement is reassuring and comforting to me. Thank you.

Thank-you once again for your work and for making calmer heads prevail.

You should know that today you engineered the most civil conversation my ex and I have had in several years.

Read More Testimonials

More About Mediation

Riverdale has numerous articles on mediation. Start with one of the ones below, or browse all articles about mediation.

November 7, 2023

Quick guide to parenting co-ordination in Ontario courts

This article was originally published in Law360 Canada on November 2, 2023.   By Hilary Linton   Parenting co-ordination (PC) in Ontario is a creature…

July 4, 2023

New parenting co-ordination case law: Clarifying or confusing?

This article was originally published in The Lawyer’s Daily on June 30, 2023.   By Hilary Linton   Parenting co-ordination (PC) is a wonderful resource…

January 18, 2023

Binding judicial dispute resolution: A win for access to family justice

This article was originally published in The Lawyer’s Daily on January 10, 2023.   By Avagene Skervin   As a member of the Kitchener, Ont., bar,…