The work primarily happens in settlement meetings. The meetings are run by a single neutral professional called a Mediator. The spouses are both the subject and full participants. Each spouse has a lawyer, but these negotiations generally occur in three-way meetings: just the Mediator and the two spouses. Each Mediator has their own process, but we work with a standard first-meeting Agenda we find gets people organized and oriented and started into the talks quickly and efficiently. Future meetings are managed to adapt to the issues as defined by the Mediator and the parties, and scheduled to allow information to be acquired and processed, and sometimes to provide time for one or both parties to have a consult with their lawyers.


In the meetings the spouses are guided and supported – within some limits – by the Mediator. Each spouse has counsel that they consult independently – before or after the Mediation sessions. Some Mediators are comfortable with parties having no independent legal assistance, but Chris does not proceed without each party having outside counsel. We believe it is a critical element facilitating informed consent and durable final agreements.

The Mediator does the same things as the Collaborative team does in their meetings: examine and analyze information, define and explore the legal issues, develop and assess solutions, and they provide the benefit of their experience. There is a line however by which the Mediator must guard their neutrality – meaning they cannot directly assist either party strategically or in a way that the other party may feel or perceive as being unfair or demonstrating some sort of bias. In practice this really doesn’t impede progress as each party has their own lawyer for that purpose.

As with the Collaborative process, other allied professionals can be added into the mix (Family Professionals – often with a mental health and/or social work background, and Financial Professionals – with financial planning expertise).

The goal is a cooperative, safe, positive bargaining environment where the spouses take control of their own futures – and explore together what their independent lives mean financially, interpersonally, and as parents. The Mediator, in concert with each party’s independent counsel offline, work to maximize client capacity so they can do their best and get their best deal with less rancour, less anxiety, less expense, and with more control than the court process. A mediation also prioritizes the needs of any children involved and pays close attention to the parents’ ability to work together cooperatively into the future.

Together the parties and the Mediator build agreements on the issues and create terms of settlement that comprehensively touch upon and solve all the issues. What is optimal is defined by the spouses – guided by the experience of the Mediator and their independent counsel. The team ensures that the spouses are fully informed about what the law requires but they are not restricted to just that box – often the best ideas are outside that box! The settlement terms are what they agree upon, not what some judge or court imposes on them.

Christopher Arnold has been conducting Family Mediations for more than 10 years and is well-known in the community in Ontario. He has trained extensively and acquired the communication skills necessary to conduct effective and efficient mediation sessions. He enjoys the dynamic in the meetings and helping people work through difficult or complex problems. He prides himself in being able to provide the support the family needs to effectively resolve what needs to be settled, with appropriate pacing and attention to detail.

More Information

If you are interested in exploring Mediation as an option for your separation or divorce call us. If you and your spouse want the information together at the same time – all the better – we are pleased to conduct joint phone or Zoom calls. If you want more information and aren’t sure if your spouse will be interested, we can talk to you about the process, even strategizing about how best to invite your spouse to join you. The same things that draw you to it – control, reduced cost, support – might appeal to them too. Its also common to doubt your spouse’s ability to cooperate or work with you. The things that appeal to you (respectful, stay out of court, prioritize the kids, etc.) may interest them too. Mediation can provide your family with a dignified and constructive path towards the solutions it needs.

A dignified path that makes sure everyone is taken care of is a divorce legacy worth choosing and working for!

Simple basic information about mediation generally (from the UK)

The largest and oldest Ontario organization

Commercial site but good resources

or you can surf the wild interwebs yourself by typing “Family Mediation” or “Divorce Mediation” into your favourite search engine.