As of today, the Ontario (Canada) Government is rolling out an initiative that requires spouses to attend a mandatory information session prior to filing for divorce. The plan to roll out these new divorce rules in Ontario was announced in December 2010 after the idea was tested in Milton and Brampton, Ontario.
The session is designed to introduce spouses to alternative dispute resolution options, so they can (ideally) pursue a path that doesn’t include a drawn-out courtroom battle. The Ontario Government hopes that this new requirement will relief the pressure on the Ontario’s family court system.
In my view, the mandatory information sessions are a good move. It’s always preferable to resolve a divorce amicably and with a mutual focus on solutions and consensus.
Yet, while this is a step in the right direction, I think more can and needs to be done. For instance:
- we need to find even more ways to educate couples on how to have a peaceful divorce (especially those who don’t even think that a peaceful divorce is possible in the first place!)
- we need to ensure that couples can access quality, credible and unbiased information earlier, not later (there are some criticisms that the information sessions are provided too late, since some couples would have already started on the path towards litigation)
- we need to ensure that couples learn about ALL of the options that are available to them, including (but not limited to) Mediation, Collaborative Divorce, Negotiation, Counseling and other solutions that promote communication and resolution – and not confrontation and acrimony
- we need to remind spouses that, while information is important, it’s not everything – because the right attitude is also key to a civilized divorce resolution. No amount of education on the different ways to divorce peacefully will make a difference if the couples are out to get each other.
- we also need to be aware that, while the Ontario government is footing the bill for a mediation session, it can sometimes take more than one session for mediation to really work – especially if there are many complex issues and details involved
So again, this is a good move. But we’re really just getting started if we want to “fix” the system – and most importantly, help spouses avoid a courtroom battle unless it’s absolutely necessary.
And, of course, if we are interested in reducing divorce all together, we need to provide pre-marital counselling, so that couples can develop better communication skills and gain a better understanding on how to have a successful relationship.
To read more about the Ontario government’s new changes, click here.
For a list of experienced Mediators in Ontario who can help pave the way towards a peaceful divorce, click here.
Dan Couvrette is a marketing expert, public speaker, magazine publisher, and artist. He is the CEO of and Divorce Marketing Group, a Toronto-based marketing agency dedicated to helping divorce professionals (such as lawyers, financial advisors and mediators) across North America market their services; and the CEO & Publisher of Divorce Magazine and www.DivorceMagazine.com. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. He can be reached at (866) 803-6667 ex. 24 email@example.com.