In most cases, former spouses must attend an information session on parenting and mediation before asking a court to decide what will happen as a result of their break-up. If they don’t attend the session, judges will not hear their cases. In this article, the word “spouse” includes both married and common-law spouses.
Important! Spouses must attend the information session, but mediation itself is optional. Both spouses must agree to go to mediation. But in some cases, family mediation might not be the best way to settle the consequences of a break-up, for example, when one spouse has more power in the relationship than the other, or when there is family violence.
Couples without children can usually be excused from the information session. It’s best to check with the court clerk at the courthouse in your area.
What Happens During an Information Session
The purpose of the information session on parenting and mediation is to explain to the spouses how mediation can help them settle the consequences of their break-up. It’s also a good opportunity for the spouses to think about how the break-up will affect their children.
The information session takes place in a group setting. Each spouse must register for the session with the Ministère de la Justice (Quebec’s justice department), but they don’t have to attend the same session. The information session is free and is given by two certified mediators.
At the end of the information session, each person who attended is given a document called an “attestation” to confirm that they attended.
Situations When an Information Session Is Not Necessary
Spouses can be excused from the information session on parenting and mediation if they have already attended an information session during a prior break-up.
Spouses who have been victims of family violence can also be excused from the information session if they have gone to a victim assistance organization, such as these:
- a crime victim’s assistance centre (CAVAC)
- some CLSCs (Web page in French only)
- some community organizations that help victims of family violence
But no matter what a spouse’s situation is, a court can always order the spouse to attend an information session if it is in the children’s best interests.