If you are thinking about divorce mediation, you need to consider that not every divorce mediator is the same.
In fact, some are much better than others. What’s more, a bad divorce mediator can cost you a lot of stress and money in the long run. Good conflict resolution requires a very specific set of skills. In other words, it’s best to get a mediator who knows what she is doing.
In California, there are no licensure requirements for mediators. So, it’s buyer beware to some extent.
Here are some questions to ask a divorce mediator:
#1: How much mediation training has the mediator had?
Training is really important. Good mediators have a specific skill set in working with parties to resolve their differences. These skills in listening and communication are crucial to a case going well or poorly. Make sure your mediator has sufficient training and has received continuing training as well. If they just took a course 15 years ago, for example, without getting any updates, they probably will be lacking in skills.
Looking for divorce mediation training?
Check out Family Resolution Institute here
for more information.
#2: What other professional credentials does the mediator have?
You want to make sure that the mediator has professional know-how beyond just a one-time mediation training course. Typical mediators are either lawyers, mental health professionals or financial professionals. They should have a working professional knowledge of the issues you are going to face. When drafting settlement documents, it is often helpful to have an attorney serve as your mediator. Mental health professionals are excellent for custody cases or cases where emotions are particularly high. Financial professionals help a ton with the financial issues. If there is no other underlying credential, you might want to look elsewhere. Also, be careful of unlicensed professionals. For instance, just because someone has a J.D., they may not necessarily be a licensed attorney. You certainly don’t want a disbarred attorney as your mediator. If they don’t have an active license, ask why.
#3: Is the mediator a full-time mediator, or a dabbler?
It’s best to get a mediator who mediates on a full-time basis and not a person, who just dabbles in mediation. A person who mediates full-time takes the profession seriously. People often get into trouble if they hire a person whose full-time job is as an adversarial attorney or a therapist, for example, who may only mediate now and then. Such folks will likely not have the skills you need to get results.
#4: Beware of one-day or super cheap processes.
Marriage is not an easy thing to unwind. Be careful of mediators who promise results in one day or some other very short time period. Chances are, you will feel rushed, and your settlement will not cover what it needs to cover.
Also, be careful of super-cheap mediators. In many cases, you really do get what you pay for. There can be lasting consequences if you rush your process and miss something important.
#5: Ask the divorce mediator about his/her process and conflict resolution style.
Every mediator is different and may have a different style. Some mediators are much more facilitative while others are more directive and evaluative. As a result, the relationship with your mediator is very personal. A mediator who is excellent for one couple may not be so good for another. So take the time to get to know the mediator, her process, and style before you engage.
Very importantly, don’t rely on your mediator for legal advice. Even if your mediator is an attorney, he can’t be YOUR attorney because of conflict of interest concerns. So it is always smart during any mediation process to consult with a lawyer to make sure that your decisions are informed.
It’s important to know the write questions to ask a divorce mediator. Hopefully, these tips will help you with the mediation selection process.
At Weber Dispute Resolution, we provide both attorney consultation service and mediation services. To get more information, give us a call at 858-410-0144.