Our Home or Yours
Dec 4th, 2016 by Families First Mediation

 Our Home or Yours – Family Mediation in our home (office) or your home, now available in the Durham Region!

Link to Press Release HERE

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Our Office




Families First Mediation continues to look for ways to make mediation more accessible to the Durham Region Community. I don’t want mediation to remain the best kept secret!

Since 2009 when I opened my mediation practice here in Whitby I have added to my services to support the needs of both families and the community.

I have found that more and more families are looking for solutions to better and more conveniently help them with their Elder Care issues, Blended Family Conflict, Marriage communication troubles as well as divorce.

In addition to the most familiar Separation and Divorce mediation, I provide Separation Coaching and Financial Support, Blended Family mediation, Parent-Teen mediation, Marriage mediation, Family Business mediation and of course with my upcoming new designation – Elder Care mediation.

While I treat my office as my home-away-from-home and believe that it has a very homey feel, it’s just not the right option for some families. For those families I will now be available to meet in their home.

Maybe it’s babysitting that’s hard to put in place, maybe you don’t do stairs, maybe you are physically unable to leave your home, maybe there are too many people to meet in my office or maybe you would just feel more comfortable in your own home. The reasons are many and they are as unique as you are. Whatever your reason I am happy to visit with you in your home if you feel that’s it’s a better fit.

This initiative is one of a kind and available to families in the Durham Region.

I’m so excited to provide this new offering and help make mediation the norm vs. the best kept secret. Please help me share my new Our Home Or Yours Initiative!

Julie Gill Q.Med, CDFA

Owner and Principal Mediator

Families First Mediation

Press Release December 5, 2016

Changing Your Parenting Plan – FREE Workshop in Oshawa Sept 15, 2016
Sep 6th, 2016 by Families First Mediation

Your parenting plan is a living breathing document. It can change with the needs of your family and your children. These conversations need to happen and they are often challenging.

Debbie Miles-Senior from Side By Side Supervised Access Services and Julie Gill of Families First Mediation & join forces to help you answer the questions:

  • Why would I need to change my parenting plan?
  • Why are these changes so difficult and how do we make the changes?
  • What if we don’t agree?
  • How involved should children be?
  • Whose plan is it anyway?

Please join us for an open discussion as we provide answers to these questions and others.

Children Change - Flyer Parenting Plans


Child Custody Battles And A Broken System
Mar 10th, 2016 by Families First Mediation

Custody battles are difficult enough but within a broken system they are doomed to be more damaging to families.

custody battle

Here is a link to a post in the Toronto Sun today by Michele Mandel.

Judge blasts warring parents who squandered $500,000 on custody battle

I thank both Michele and Judge Alex Pazaratz for bringing attention to this story. Stories like this; often on a smaller financial scale, occur everyday!

While I appreciate Judge Pazaratz saying “Our family court system has zero tolerance for this type of emotional abuse of children” this couple spent $500k between them fighting within that very same system!

We need continued conversations and a lot more action focused at changing the system.

  • Changes have to be made at the beginning of the process.
  • Parents need to be educated on the alternatives and I don’t just mean at the MIP.
  • Parents need to be educated on what the real cost of long custody battles is to their kids and themselves.
  • Mediators need to get better about bringing awareness of mediation as a solution (Yes, we can do high conflict as well).
  • We need a team approach that makes it cost effective for parents to access lawyers, mediators, and social workers in order to make informed and reasonable decisions
  • We need to find a safe way to bring the children’s voice into the process.
  • We need lawyers to be educated on how to de-escalate their clients.
  • We need reality checks! Spending $500k fighting about the best interests of your child just can’t be in the best interests of your child.

I understand the need to fight, I truly do. My ex husband took me to court to fight for sole custody and primary care of our 2 children. I did fight back in order to get shared custody and 50/50 shared parenting. We had different ideas about what was in the best interests of our children and I see that in my office all of the time. I can tell you that the legal process destroyed our ability to go forward and positively co-parent. It was all about my rights and his rights and not about the rights of my children to have 2 parents that would continue to care for them.

My question is this…

Did the Family Court System and their zero tolerance, fail these parents?

These parents did not spend this kind of money without lawyers and other supporting professionals. This process took years to develop. There should have been a process to derail them.

We know people are going to fight and we know people are going to be unreasonable. But knowing that, how can we save them from themselves?

Julie Gill Q.Med, CDFA

Families First Mediation

Conflict Preparedness For Youth- Are We Just Hoping They Will Learn These Skills?
Sep 10th, 2015 by Families First Mediation

Teaching youth to better manage conflict are not skills that are being taught, unless there has already been a problem. We are reactive. Are these skills that we hope young people gain through life experiences and by watching us adults model them. Is hope enough? Let’s be proactive about teaching these skills instead.

I was recently on a radio show discussing Youth and Conflict and I’ve had some great feedback. It would seem that I’m not alone in thinking that if we spent any time training our youth how to communicate, engage in conflict in a positive manner and negotiate that we might just see better results.

You can listen to it here


This isn’t about placing blame. Are the schools failing our kids? Are we as parents not doing enough to help them manage through these tough years? Is anyone really listening to our youth?

This is about finding a way to fill the gap that so obviously exists. Aren’t we all curious how we ended up going from the youth that we were to the responsible adults that we are today? Do we even think about how many lessons that we learned the hard way? Shouldn’t we be thinking of ways to teach our youth based on our experiences?

I know, it looks like all I have are questions. But questions are a great place to start! The BIG question is What do our Youth think would help them navigate conflict better?

We see youth in conflict managed poorly every day…we see bullying, fights, criminal charges, suspensions, withdrawals, mental health issues and sadly suicide. Before you ask, I don’t believe that opening a dialogue about problem solving or managing conflict is going to change all of this. I do however believe that there is an opportunity to change some of this.

  • Instead of being so critical of our youth, let’s be supportive of their strengths.
  • Instead of managing everything for them, let’s be there to guide them (or catch them) when they try to problem solve on their own.
  • Instead of dictating what they will do, when they will do it and how they will do it, let’s ask them for their input.
  • Instead of talking at them, let’s try listening to them.

I was asked to talk about this topic because I faciliate a workshop for Youth called RESOLVE – Conflict Preparedness for Youth. It creates dialogue around relationships, respect, power imbalances, and boundaries while helping teach communication skills as well as Conflict management.

I was asked why I thought my approach was effective. My answer is simple. I think any approach is effective! These are not skills that are being taught. These are skills that we hope young people gain through life experiences and by watching us adults model them. Is hope enough?

I think we need to empower the Youth and give them a voice. I’m sure we will be pleasantly surprised by what we hear.

Julie Gill, QMed, CDFA

Owner of Families First Mediation

Ashley Madison – A Time For Some Difficult Family Conversations
Aug 21st, 2015 by Families First Mediation

“I think it’s time to bring the personal family issues of the leaked Ashley Madison users back into the private world. No media, no courts, just families having these difficult conversations in a safe environment.”

Everyone feels they have a right to judge, not sure why but they do. The focus right now should be on minimizing risk to the families involved. Not just debating the legal and moral positions of the site and hackers.

Am I condoning cheating? No

Am I condoning the hackers blackmailing, bullying and sharing private information? No

Do I think people are seeing the families behind those leaked names? No

Ok, so we all know what Ashley Madison represents – feel free to think what you want about the people that join and pay for a membership.  I can tell you though as a Family Mediator that we have no idea what goes on in other people’s homes and/or in other people’s relationships. And really, why should we?

Perhaps these members have an open relationship. Perhaps they are separated and living together for convenience. Perhaps it was a joke or a joint effort by a couple to see what the site was all about. Perhaps it was cheating, pure and simple.

The hack does not end with user names being released, that is just the beginning. I’m concerned about the family fallout. What is going to happen with those couples and families now? Some very difficult conversations for sure. Those conversations may bring about some ugly truths, mistrust and some very real changes in their lives. These people can be mothers, fathers, children or grandparents and all of their extended family will now be involved in their personal lives, and let’s be clear, it is their personal lives.

I think it’s time to bring their personal family issues back into the private world. No media, no courts, just families having these conversations in a safe environment.

As a private and confidential process, maybe it’s time for the mediation process to shine. An opportunity for these families to have difficult conversations and for us as mediators to help them find a way to move forward.

Julie Gill Q.Med, CDFA

Owner & Principal Mediator

Families First Mediation


Family Mediation on the Radio – Why Would I Need A Mediator?
Feb 15th, 2015 by Families First Mediation

On December 28th 2014 I was pleased to be a guest on the radio program Mediation Station. Our topic was “Why Would I Need A Mediator?”

Mediation resolving conflict

So, I regularly have people say to me “Oh I am happily married, I would never need your services” or “if I take your card or friend you on Facebook someone will think I need your services”.

To these people I have a few questions…

“What if a family member was divorcing, would you rather see them in court losing their savings or privately sorting out their differences?” (Divorce Mediation)

“What if you are struggling with your siblings over selling your dad’s house during the process of moving him into a care facility?” (Elder Mediation)

“What if your son/daughter is in a new relationship with a partner who also has children and they are planning on moving in together? How will your grandchildren will be cared for?” (Family or Blended Family Mediation)

For all of the above situations a Family mediator could be amazingly helpful in creating transition plans and bridging the gaps in communication.

Life is about relationships, making connections, happiness…yes? I have devoted my practice to helping families transition their relationships during a time of stress. It is a very balanced and fair process that lets you stay in control. Staying focused on what really matters and helping you to move forward. What could be more positive than that?

Mediation is part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Having the knowledge that mediation exists may help you, a family member, friend or client in the future. Mediation really is your choice for POSITIVE change.

Listen now…


Julie Gill

Qualified Mediator & Certified Divorce Financial Analyst

Families First Mediation









Difficult Conversations – Getting The Death You Want
May 26th, 2014 by Families First Mediation

Mediation and having difficult conversations about death are probably not things that you think belong together, but they do.

Have you told your loved ones what your end of life decisions are? As a society it’s something that we don’t like to talk about.

I don’t know if it’s because I am completing my certification in Elder Mediation or because aging is a popular topic right now but it seems that there are very good attempts at creating awareness and starting conversations about this in the media. Not the negative stories that everyone hears about but some positive and honest discussions about the issues.

The Toronto Star is running a week long series aimed at doing just that. Today’s article is about Getting The Death You Want. Sounds ominous doesn’t it? They quote the following statistic “only 45 per cent of Canadians have talked about their end-of-life wishes.” Why aren’t all families having this conversation? It is 100% going to happen to each of us.

Yes it’s true as the article points out that the 3 main reasons people don’t talk about their wishes for their death are 1) Fear of death 2) Not wanting to upset family and 3) it’s just plain uncomfortable. What the article doesn’t mention are solutions. It’s a great starting point but how does this article translate into action? People understand why they aren’t having these discussions, how can we help them to have them? Elder Mediation is how. Elder Mediators are trained to help ensure that the focus is on the person in need while allowing all family members/friends/caregivers(anyone that the person would like to participate) to have a voice, get informed and help make decisions.

The Elder Mediation process makes the discussion a little more neutral. We help facilitate the conversation and take some of the burden of having the conversation away from the family.

These conversations do need to happen, why not get a little help?

Julie Gill Q.Med, CDFA

Families First Mediation

Owner and Principal Mediator


By:  Health Reporter, Published on Mon May 26 2014

Toronto Star Read the full article here



The Cost Of Care – Canada Sees An Increase In Senior Caregivers
May 20th, 2014 by Families First Mediation

Author: Rubab Abid,
Published Sunday, May 11, 2014 10:15PM EDT

Elder Mediation and Caregiver Support

Elder Mediation and Caregiver Support

With an aging Canadian population and the increasing cost of nursing homes, the number of Canadian seniors providing at-home care to elderly patients has increased in recent years.

In the last decade, the number of senior caregivers across the country has grown from eight per cent to 12 per cent – a looming issue among an increasingly aging Canadian society.

For Roy Warren, taking care of his 92-year-old wife Tamara is a labour of love.

Roy, who is 89, spends his days feeding, bathing and taking care of Tamara from their home in Kitchener, Ont.

“After her breakfast, I change her diaper and give her a sponge bath,” Roy said in an interview with CTV News.

Roy and Tamara met in 2002 and married late in life.

Tamara, who was University of Waterloo’s first vice-president and was named to the Order of Canada, fell ill soon after their wedding.

After suffering a fall, Tamara’s eye sight began to worsen and she began losing her memory.

She relies on Roy to help take care of her growing medical needs as she is now completely blind and bedridden.

Tamara says the idea of going to a nursing home and being away from Roy is too much to bear.

“I just couldn’t face going to a nursing home,” Tamara said.

Support workers from the local Community Care and Access Centre (CCAC) drop by the Warren’s home throughout the week to help Roy take care of his wife.

Christine Rupert, a CCAC occupational health worker who co-ordinates care for the couple, says Roy is determined to take care of Tamara in any way he can.

“It is such a big duty. Such a big task and he does it so well,” Rupert said.

“They are very much committed. They are very much in love. For some families it is very much an expectation. They know that is part of being a couple, of being a family,” she added.

While Roy is grateful for the extra help from CCAC, which totals about 90 hours per month, he is left to take care of Tamara on his own on evenings and weekends.

“I can do it for evenings, weekends, and at the end of the weekend…I am pretty well paved out…you get edgy and tolerances drop,” he said.

“And those four day weekends, when you have a holiday, it’s pretty hard deal for me,” he said.

Roy said he would love to get extra help on the weekend, but he has reached his limit for government-sponsored home care and can’t afford to hire help on his own.

Dr. Janice Keefe, a gerontology expert from Mount St. Vincent University, says Roy’s predicament is similar to many elderly Canadians who are struggling with at home care services.

“We have an aging population, it is not going away,” Keefe told CTV News. “We have to prepare for a future where people can live in their homes as long as possible.”

“We cannot afford individuals to all be in long term care facilities or hospital,” she said.

“In the future, there will be more spousal caregivers, they will live together longer in that spousal relationship and you may end up with two people both needing care, but not necessarily wanting to seek out because they tend to try and compensate for each other,” she said.

Ray says his health is good and that, aside from some arthritis and a hearing problem, he is able to take care of Tamara for the time being.

“It’s a relationship and a love story – how it should be,” he said.

See original content here: CTV News 

See how mediation can help with caregiver support and difficult family conversations.



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