When a marriage or marriage-like relationship ends, there are usually points where parties have differences of opinion.

What to do about a difference of opinion? There are basically two ways to approach it. Either the parties can compromise and bridge the difference on their own steam, or someone else can decide for them. It really is as simple as that.

When parties are motivated to reach their own resolution, a good mediator helps by providing and facilitating the process through which the parties achieve voluntary and mutually acceptable solutions.

Heather Dale brings to the table skills which can be divided into two categories:

(a) skills pertaining to the groundwork, namely: setting the mediation stage; identifying the issues; and facilitating discussion toward agreement; and

(b) skills tailored to deal with the specific dynamics between the parties such as differences in values/priorities, power imbalances, patterns of abuse or disrespect, poor or non-communication, powerful emotions, misinformation and different analytical approaches.

Though mediation can be a challenge, it is generally preferable by far to the difficulties that may arise when parties decide to “let the judge decide” for them. In order to let the judge decide, the parties must pay counsel to do all the necessary preparatory work, which often includes interim court applications. Aside from the financial cost of litigation, which is significant, the path toward trial is filled with anxiety and uncertainty for parties.