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Mediation services

For couples with at least one dependent child, the ministère de la Justice du Québec subsidises the professional fees of certified family mediator for five (5) hours, including the information session, if applicable, or, in the case of an application for revision (of a judgment or a previous agreement), the professional fees for two and a half (2.5) hours, including the information session, if applicable. The parents must choose a mediator working within the government program, i.e. a mediator whose hourly rate respects the rate prescribed by law ($110 per hour). All necessary overtime will be charge to the couple at the prescribed hourly rate of $110 per hour. If the couple chooses a mediator who does not work within the government program, it will be responsible for all mediation expenses.

Parents can benefit from government services in the following instances: 

A. Voluntary mediation

Both parents wish to amicably settle the consequences of their separation and to negotiate an agreement with the help of a mediator. Parents can use mediation services at any time, whether or not a legal procedure has been introduced before court. 

B. Free information session on parenting after separation

If the parents do not agree on one of the following topics : child custody, access rights, child support, spousal support, partition of the family patrimony or any other issue arising from their separation. Since January 1, 2016, attendance at a parenting after separation information session has been a legal requirement if you and your spouse still disagree on any question concerning your separation at the time you are scheduled to be heard by a judge.

The parents can attend the information session together or separately, but unless they request otherwise, they will attend different information sessions. In any case, the parents can be accompanied by a person of their choosing.

The information session is given by two certified mediators, one of which has to be a jurist, and it can be given using any appropriate technological medium available. The information session focuses on parental responsibilities, the consequences of a conflict on children, the nature of the mediation process, the objectives of the mediation process, the different steps of the mediation process and the role of the mediator. The length of the session is approximately 2.5 hours.

Parents can be exempted from this session if they deposit a certificate to the court clerk proving that they have attended such a session for a previous separation. They can also be exempted if they present themselves to a victim assistance centre for victims of domestic violence certified by the ministère de la Justice. In any case, the court can, if the interest of the child requests such a measure, order both parents to attend the information session.

If one of the parents does not attend the session, he or she could be ordered to pay all expenses related to the legal procedure that was introduced before the court.

At the end of the information session, the family mediation service gives both parents a certificate proving that they have attended the session. Once they receive the certificate, the parents can choose between going through the mediation process or continue their procedure before court.

C. Court ordered mediation

The court may order parents to resort to mediation at any time during the proceedings if it deems it appropriate. The parents must then choose a mediator and notify the court. Parents can also ask the Service de médiation familiale to designate a mediator for them. If the parents do not start mediation within a 20-day deadline, or if they put an end to it before reaching an agreement, the mediator reports the situation to the court and issues a copy of the report to both parties and their attorneys. TIf the couple chooses a mediator who does not work within the government program, it will be responsible for all mediation expenses.