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Getting Started in Family Mediation, Arbitration, Mediation-Arbitration, Parenting Coordination or Third Party Screening

Now that you have read the material on this website, here is what you need to do to get started in family mediation, family arbitration, family mediation-arbitration, third party screening for family arbitration or parenting coordination:

1. Documents


Please read the appropriate agreement:


Seek independent legal advice if you have any questions about the agreement.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If the process you seek is family arbitration or parenting coordination, note that you must receive independent legal advice and must attend for an individual meeting before you can sign the agreement. Even if you have an agreement or court order for arbitration or parenting coordination, both parties must attend an individual meeting/screening for suitability, by law, before they can enter into a binding agreement for parenting coordination or family arbitration.


Complete the appropriate confidential intake form for:

and send it to us, preferably using the gravity forms on the website and sending it to us using our secure website.

Please send us the signing page of the Agreement if you are seeking mediation or third party screening.

If you choose to download a PDF and send it to us by email, please mail to [email protected] We ask that you kindly passcode protect it to protect your privacy.

These forms are not intended to be shared with anyone but us.

2. Individual Meeting

Please check the calendar for the professional with whom you wish to work and request a date for an individual meeting that suits your schedule by emailing that professional.

Once we have the appropriate intake forms from both clients, we will set up your respective individual meetings. A meeting usually lasts from one to 1.5 hours. Unless otherwise provided, we charge a flat, one hour rate for individual meetings.

Individual meetings are confidential and without prejudice. Counsel may attend but are not required to attend. You may bring a family member or support person if you wish.

The individual meeting helps us assess if mediation, med-arb or parenting coordination, as the case may be, is an appropriate process choice for you and your family. It helps us identify any steps we feel should be taken before the matter can proceed. In the case of third party screening, the meeting is the mandatory first step of the family arbitration process.

Important note: it is our responsibility to assess whether a matter is appropriate for the process requested. Even if you, the other party, your lawyers or a judge has recommended a particular dispute resolution process for you, until you have met with the professional for an individual meeting, it is not possible to know whether that is a good choice for you and your family. We may choose to not accept cases we feel are not well-suited to the process requested.

Important note about third-party screening: If we are conducting a third-party screening, it is our job to advise the arbitrator of our views about the suitability of the process for the circumstances. These recommendations are made in confidence to the arbitrator and will not be shared with anyone.

After your individual meetings, and assuming everyone agrees to proceed, the mediation, mediation-arbitration or parenting coordination process will start.

Note: Riverdale Mediation offers learning opportunities for apprentice mediators. There may be an apprentice observing your meeting. All apprentices have taken family mediation, arbitration and/or parenting coordination training and are often experienced family law or mental health professionals. Their role is to observe, take notes for their own learning and later share their observations with the professional. Our apprentices are required,  by contract, to maintain the same level of confidentiality and discretion with respect to our clients as we are.

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

3. Bring a credit card or cheque

We do not require retainers for our individual meetings nor for third party screening meetings.

And we do not require retainers for mediation. We only ask that you pay your share of the fee owing at the end of each meeting.

Note: We generally do request deposits for family arbitration and parenting coordination.


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 that professional. 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 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 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 individual meetings are intended to help us make this assessment.

5. Sign Parenting Coordination Agreement

After the individual 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.