Mediators cannot provide legal advice. Even if your mediator is also a trained lawyer, they cannot offer advice while they are acting as your mediator.
All parties participating in mediation are strongly encouraged to obtain independent legal advice (ILA) prior to, during, and after participating in mediation. A mediator will recommend that each part seek legal advice about any mediation report provided. Only the mediator signs the report and it is not contractually binding.
Seeking the advice of a lawyer can provide you with information about your legal rights and obligations and lawyers can review mediation reports before they are made into orders or other binding documents such as separation agreements.
In on-site mediation, we partner with court Duty Counsel to ensure that every person, if they do not have their own retained counsel, can obtain ILA before having their mediation report made into a court order.
In off-site mediation, if the parties want the report to be re-drafted into a contractually binding agreement, it is suggested that a lawyer is obtained to help with this process. Although it is not encouraged, if the parties chose to opt out of legal advice, the Family Law Information Centre at the Family Court can provide the forms and information to have the terms of the mediation report made into an order or otherwise registered with the court.
If you would like help to find a lawyer, you may find assistance using the Law Society Referral Service. They can be reached by calling 1-800-268-8326 or visiting their website at www.lsuc.on.ca.
In some instances, you may be able to have a lawyer provided to you via the Ontario Legal Aid Plan. To find out if you qualify, visit their website at www.legalaid.on.ca/en or call 1-800-668-8258 toll-free to get legal aid help in over 200 languages.
You can also find a listing of all the local legal clinics in the areas we serve in our MIP community resource listings.