Stay up to date on everything mediation!

Subscribe to our free newsletter,
"This Week in Mediation"

Sign Up Now

Already subscribed No subscription today
<xTITLE>5 Ways Custody Mediation in Ontario is Unique</xTITLE>

5 Ways Custody Mediation in Ontario is Unique

by Ben Coltrin
May 2022 Ben Coltrin

In Ontario, most separating parents are able to resolve disagreements over decision-making responsibility (formerly known as custody) and parenting time (formerly known as access) outside of court.

One of the most popular alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes in Ontario is mediation.

Knowing these five traits unique to mediation in the province of Ontario could help you determine whether the process is right for you.

  1. Parents can use the court's mediation program even if they don't have a case.

All parents who want to resolve matters amicably are welcome to try court-connected family mediation — even if they don’t apply for a parenting order. Attending mediation before you open case could save you time and money; you won't waste either on litigation.

  1. A judge cannot order parents to attend.

By law, legal professionals and courts must mention mediation as a possible way to handle custody disagreements. However, a judge cannot order parents to attend. The belief is that the process is more likely to succeed if parents go voluntarily.

  1. There's a time limit.

Court-connected mediation has an eight-hour time limit, with the first two hours dedicated to the intake and screening process. The mediator may be willing to tack on more time if they believe parents are making meaningful progress. Beyond that, parents have to go to either private mediation, a different ADR process or court to resolve their differences.

  1. Getting a court order isn't required.

If you do reach an agreement in mediation, the mediator writes your terms into a document called a Mediation Summary Agreement or a Memorandum of Understanding. Most parents walk away with this and trust one another to follow the terms. Those who want a court order can either hire a lawyer to write the terms into a consent order or draft their own Ontario parenting plan to submit to the court.

  1. You can use it in conjunction with arbitration.

Parents who choose private mediation can use mediation-arbitration, a hybrid of two ADR processes. If mediation is unsuccessful, parents go to arbitration, where an arbitrator (who might be the same person as the mediator) makes a final decision based on evidence the parents present.


Ben Coltrin was 21 years old when he quit his job to create the Custody X Change software, which helps parents track their custody schedules, create parenting plans, keep tabs on their child's expenses, and more.

Nearly 20 years later, he loves sharing his child custody knowledge and improving the software because both positively impact real people's lives.

Ben has an MBA from MIT Sloan and a computer science degree from California State University, Sacramento. He lives with his wife and four children in Riverton, Utah.

Email Author
Additional articles by Ben Coltrin