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Hania E. Grabowski is a trained and experienced Mediator, primarily in financial issues, division of property, child support and spousal support.

Family Relations Mediators with specialized training generally undertake mediation of parenting issues, including custody, joint custody and visitation/access matters.

For more information on Mediation:


1. Ontario Association for Family Mediation - Ottawa Chapter at

2. Ontario Association for Family Mediation at


Prepared by: Family Relations Mediators Working Group (Members of OAFM, Ottawa)

Separation/divorce is a family crisis. Both children and parents are confronted with major changes in their lives which lead to the redefinition of the family unit. When a couple separates, issues need to be resolved regarding family finances and parenting arrangements. The decisions that are made concerning parenting have long-lasting implications for children. In making those decisions, separating parents and their children are best served by professionals who have expertise in working with families.

Who are Family Relations Mediators?

Family Relations Mediators are professionals who are trained and experienced in working with families, couples and individuals. They are additionally trained in methods of conflict resolution. Family Relations Mediators are knowledgeable regarding family relationships, child development and the dynamics of divorce and parenting. As a result, they are able to provide parents with general, factual information regarding children’s needs during separation and divorce. And when their expertise alerts them to the need for more specific parenting information, they guide the parents to the appropriate professionals. Family Relations Mediators, with their expertise and knowledge, are well placed to assist parents and their children with the difficult task of creating and adjusting to a new family structure as a separated family.

What do Family Relations Mediators Offer?

Family Relations Mediators focus on the relationships within the family. Marital separation does not end the relationship among the family members. The parenting relationship survives the divorce, as does the relationship between the children and each of the parents. The quality of these relationships is critically important for the long-term adjustment of each of the family members.

Family Relations Mediators consider the children as central to the mediation process. In separation and divorce the child is the most vulnerable party. Decisions are made which affect the child’s present and future. An important task of the Family Relations Mediator is to help parents understand the needs of the children within the context of separation/divorce.

Family Relations Mediators provide an opportunity for the children to be heard. The mediator is often the only impartial adult with whom the child may speak about the separation. Children benefit from the opportunity to express their feelings without the fear of hurting either parent. The interaction between the child and mediator often provides important feedback to the parents.

Why is the focus on the family important?

Family Relations Mediators view each family as unique and changing. Parenting arrangements that work for one family may not be appropriate for another. Parenting agreements may be designed with a particular time frame in mind. Parents have the option of returning to the Mediator at any time after the separation in order to negotiate new agreements as the children’s needs change, or the existing agreement has become impractical due to changing circumstances. Family Relations Mediators are also available to consult on concerns regarding an existing agreement.

What is Co-Parenting?

Separated parents often continue to work together to make decisions about the upbringing of their children. Even though parents are no longer marital partners, they remain as parenting partners. Learning how to co-parent is one of the most difficult challenges of separation and divorce. Family Relations Mediators are trained to educate parents regarding good co-parenting strategies.

Research has demonstrated that exposure to ongoing parental conflict is one of the most adverse factors in affecting the children in separated families. Children do best when the parents deal with each other with respect and are able to communicate effectively regarding parenting issues.

The Family Relations Mediator works with the mother and father to develop and sustain a working relationship that in turn allows for a good co-parenting relationship. The aim is for the separating couple to understand their own needs and reactions to the separation and divorce. The Family Relations Mediator assists the parents in learning to relate to each other in new ways that respect the changing nature of their relationship with each other. When marital issues are set aside, parents are often better able to focus on the needs of their children.

What is a Parenting Plan?

A Parenting Plan is a working document that has been arrived at with the agreement of both parents. The Family Relations Mediator assumes the role of a neutral third party who assists the parents in making their own decisions about what is best for their children.

The Parenting Plan is arrived at through a process whereby the Family Relations Mediator assists the parents in exploring options, understanding the terms and future impact of their decisions, and anticipating potential future disagreements.

In considering the content of a Parenting Plan, parents may discuss: where the children will live, how routine child care will be shared, where the children will spend holidays, how major decisions will be made (i.e. medical treatment, education, religion), and other issues involved in parenting.

Once completed and agreed upon by both parents, the parties present the Parenting Plan to their independent lawyers in order to ensure that each parent’s legal rights and responsibilities are honored. Lawyers may use the Parenting Plan in drafting the Separation Agreement.

Ontario Association of Family Mediators


Ottawa Lawyer
Barnes Sammon LLP
400-200 Elgin Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K2P 1L5
Telephone: (613) 594-8000 ext. 260
Fax: 613-235-7578
Lawyer: Hania E. Grabowski