If you’re already familiar with estate litigation, you’ll know that it’s often an emotionally charged and complex process. One of the tools that can make this process less adversarial and more constructive is mediation. This post will delve into the benefits of mediation in estate litigation and how it’s being utilized in Ontario’s legal landscape.

Mediation in Estate Litigation

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) where a neutral third party, the mediator, helps the disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable solution. In Ontario, mediation has become an increasingly popular option for resolving estate disputes due to its flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and focus on preserving relationships.

Why Choose Mediation?

Confidentiality: Unlike court proceedings, which are a matter of public record, mediation is a private process. Discussions and resolutions are kept confidential, which can be particularly advantageous when dealing with sensitive family disputes.

Preserving Relationships: Estate disputes often involve family members, and a drawn-out court battle can damage relationships beyond repair. As mediation is more collaborative, it offers a better chance of preserving family relationships.

Flexibility & Control: Mediation allows for creative and personalized solutions that courts may not be able to provide. The disputing parties maintain control over the resolution, rather than leaving the decision in the hands of a judge.

Efficiency: Mediation can often be scheduled more quickly than court dates and the process is typically shorter, saving time and financial resources.

The Mediation Process in Estate Litigation

The mediation process usually involves the following stages:

  1. Pre-Mediation Conference: This stage allows each party to provide the mediator with background information about the dispute and their perspective.
  2. Joint Session: The parties and their lawyers meet with the mediator, either in-person or virtually. Each party has a chance to present their view of the dispute.
  3. Private Sessions: The mediator meets separately with each party to discuss the issues in more depth and explore potential solutions.
  4. Negotiation: If a mutually agreeable resolution is reached, the mediator will help draft an agreement.

Court-Connected Mediation in Ontario

In recent years, there has been a shift towards court-connected mediation in Ontario. For instance, in Toronto, Ottawa, and the County of Essex, mediation is mandatory for contested estate, trust, and substitute decision matters. This highlights the increasing recognition of the value of mediation in estate litigation.


Estate litigation can be an emotionally charged and complex process. Mediation offers a way to resolve disputes in a more controlled, confidential, and potentially less damaging way. It’s always advisable to seek the guidance of a qualified legal professional experienced in mediation to navigate this process effectively.

The information and comments herein are for the general information of the reader and are not intended as advice or opinion to be relied upon in relation to any particular circumstances. For particular application of the law to specific situations, the reader should seek professional advice.