Mediation helps create what’s best for families
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
When parents who are splitting up come to family mediator Anisa Ali, she gets creative. Depending on the level of conflict between the clients, she may ask the parents to go to separate rooms — sometimes, separate buildings — and goes from one person to the other to help them move towards an agreement.
“Mediation is not a one-shot deal,” Anisa says. “It’s definitely a process.”
While mediation empowers two people to work together outside of a courtroom to figure out family issues for themselves, the process for Anisa often starts with one-to-one meetings. She usually speaks with each person individually first to see when – or if – they will both eventually be able to be in the same room. This assessment stage helps her assess client needs and determine whether meditation is right for them or if they would do better in the court process.
For those suited to the process, mediation is a good alternative to having a judge or a third party base a decision solely on facts presented by lawyers. Mediation, in comparison, allows clients to create an agreement that factors in pertinent life details like work shifts and the involvement of extended family members.
And this is where Anisa comes in.
“I’m here to help clients arrive at their own decisions,” she says. “As a mediator, I’m not there to take sides.”
Once Anisa has helped her clients arrive at mutually agreeable terms, they are drafted into a mediation report. Clients can then take this document to duty counsel or their lawyer to transform into a legally-binding agreement. Throughout the process, Anisa reminds clients that mediation is voluntary and that all information is confidential.
“I’m here to help clients arrive at their own decisions. As a mediator, I’m not there to take sides.”
Working at Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) is a natural fit for Anisa, whose focus has always been on working with low-income individuals. She draws upon her 17 years of experience running a food bank and her Masters in social work to better understand the challenges that many of her mediation clients face.
An accredited family mediator since 2003, Anisa has seen former clients return or refer family and friends to the process because of the positive experience they’ve had in resolving their issues.
“I’ve had repeat clients who, once they’ve had a taste of the mediation process, choose to come back as changes need to be made — such as new partners coming into the picture or if there’s a breakdown in communication,” she says.
Anisa points out that there is no template. As things evolve, agreements can change. What’s important is being able to work past old differences in order to make changes that work for everyone.
If you’re interested in family mediation and live in either the York or Peel regions, please contact Anisa at 647-924-5827 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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