Mediation vs. Family Court

Family Lawyer | November 15, 2023 | Written by Crystal Arbour

When it comes to resolving family disputes in British Columbia, individuals often find themselves at a crossroads, contemplating between mediation vs. family court and which option to pursue. It is crucial to understand the differences between these two approaches in order to make informed decisions. For those unfamiliar with the intricacies of BC law, the lawyers at Linley Welwood can help break down the distinctions for you.


Mediation is a process where a mediator, the neutral third party, assists disputing parties in reaching a resolution. The mediator facilitates conversation and encourages mutual understanding without imposing any decisions. The aim is often to find a solution that addresses the concerns of all involved parties.

On the other hand, family court is a formal legal setting where disputing parties present their cases before a judge. After hearing the evidence and considering the legal arguments, the judge will make a binding decision based on BC law and the presented facts.

Control Over Outcome

In mediation, the outcome is in the hands of the disputing parties. With the mediator’s guidance, they collaboratively craft a solution. The mediator’s role is to facilitate the discussion, not to decide the outcome.

In family court, the judge has the final say. Parties present their arguments, but the outcome is determined by the judge’s decision based on legal criteria.

Here are the top 5 reasons to mediate your family law dispute.

Time and Cost

Generally, mediation can be a quicker process compared to court proceedings; however, the timeframe greatly depends on the parties’ willingness to cooperate and find common ground.

Court proceedings can vary in length, sometimes extending over months or years. The duration depends on the complexity of the case, court schedules, and other factors.


Mediation processes are typically confidential. What is discussed during sessions usually remains private, offering a level of discretion.

Court proceedings, by their nature, are part of the public record. Though some details might be withheld or redacted, the basic information about the case, including the outcome, is publicly accessible.


Mediation allows for a degree of flexibility. Since the solution is crafted by the involved parties, they can tailor the agreement to fit their unique situations.

Family court decisions are based on legal guidelines, statutes, and precedents. The judge’s decision is rooted in law and, while they take into account the specifics of each case, there may be less room for tailor-made solutions.

While both mediators and family court lawyers serve as avenues to resolve disputes, they differ significantly in their approach and outcome. Linley Welwood’s team of experienced lawyers can guide families in making the best choice suited to their individual circumstances, ensuring that the chosen path aligns with the client’s needs and best interests. Just schedule a consultation through our website form, and we will get back as soon as possible.

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