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Getting Started in Family Mediation, Family Arbitration or Parenting Coordination

So you have read over the information on this website and have decided to try family mediation! Congratulations! Here is what you need to do now. Steps 1 to 3 apply to all services (Family Mediation, Family Arbitration, or Parenting Coordination).

1. Documents

Please read and sign the Family Agreement to Mediate. Seek independent legal advice if you have any questions. You and the other person/people involved will need to complete a Confidential Intake Form. We may want to speak with your lawyer. Please email the completed intake form and the signing page of the Agreement to Mediate to [email protected]. (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. Each party will meet individually and confidentially with the mediator. Your lawyer, if you have one, may attend the meeting. The intake meeting helps us assess if getting started in mediation is appropriate for your case, and helps you and us know if any steps need to be taken before you can have a productive and effective mediation. This meeting lasts between 60 and 90 minutes. We charge a flat rate of one hour of the mediator’s time. You can schedule your meeting by checking the available dates of the mediator on the website and then sending an e-mail to [email protected] to set it up. Interns: As Riverdale Mediation is a teaching practice, an intern is likely to be present. Our interns have taken family mediation training and are often experienced family law or mental health professionals. Interns observe and often participate in the family mediation process. Having them observe the intake meeting to getting started in family mediation is an important step because it affects many other aspects of the mediation, including the mediator who is best suited to handle your case from an experience and personality fit, among other considerations. Our interns are governed by the same strict confidentiality and professional standards as our mediators.

3. Bring a credit card or cheque

One advantage at Riverdale Mediation is that we do not require deposits or retainers to get started in family mediation, but we do require you to “pay as you go.”


For all Intake Forms, Agreements, and other Important Documents


“Thank you for your continued guidance and support. Family mediation has, I believe, been the best way for J. and I to work through what is best for our kids and fair to both of us. Getting started in mediation was the most positive thing we could have done.” “I thank you again for your fairness and compassion in dealing with us. You should know that today you engineered the most civil conversation my ex and I have had in several years.” “Thank you for all your hard work during our family mediation. We really appreciate all your sincere efforts to make the mediation fruitful.”

Please review additional steps for:


4. Do I need a lawyer to attend the family mediation?

It is always our preference to have the respective lawyers present at family mediations. However, not everyone can afford to pay their lawyer to attend, nor even to have a lawyer. We work with people whether they have lawyers or not.

5. The first family mediation meeting

Your first meeting will be scheduled for a date convenient for both parties, (lawyers), the mediator and the intern. If lawyers are not involved, or if the mediator does not have an online calendar, please send your preferred choices to [email protected]. We will do our best to accommodate your preferences. We do not schedule mediations on weekends; evenings may be available on request. You will be expected to pay for your share of the mediation at the end of the session.


4. Screening for power imbalances

All parties attending arbitration are required, by law, to first participate in “screening” for power imbalances [to see if there is danger of family violence or other threats to you or other members of your family] 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. It is important to know that, even though you, the other party and your lawyers have decided to try mediation-arbitration or arbitration, it is our job to assess whether we feel the case is an appropriate one for that process. Not all cases are suited to out-of-court dispute resolution; this is what the intake process is intended to assess.

5. Sign the Arbitration Agreement with independent legal advice

The lawyers must finalize the Family (Mediation) Arbitration Agreement before the first first mediation meeting takes place. Once the agreement is signed, the mediator-arbitrator and their lawyers will meet in person or by phone to determine the procedural details of the arbitration process.

6. Provide a deposit

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, to be held for the arbitration. The amount will depend on the complexity of the case.

Parenting Coordination

4. Separation Agreement or Parenting Plan?

Parenting Coordination takes place after there is already a Separation Agreement or Parenting Plan in place. Such agreements will often provide that the parties consent to work with a Parenting Coordinator to resolve identified matters in the future. To get started, complete the intake forms on our website and send a copy of your Separation Agreement or Parenting Plan that provides for a Parenting Coordinator and describes the Parenting Coordinator’s jurisdiction. We will set up intake/screening meetings (see 1 to 3 above). It is important for you to know that, even though you, the other person and your lawyers may have decided to try parenting coordination, it is our job to assess whether it is an appropriate case for this process. Not all people or situations are suited to private dispute resolution, and the intake meetings are intended to help us make this assessment.

5. Sign Parenting Coordination Agreement

After the intake meetings, the Parenting Coordination agreement will need to be signed by each of you, ensuring that the jurisdiction provided to the Parenting Coordinator and the other terms of the contract are agreeable to both parties.

6. Provide a deposit

We do require deposits for Parenting Coordination files. Your Parenting Coordinator will advise you of the amount.