Finding the right mediator for your divorce
You and your spouse have made the decision to file for divorce and you want to use mediation to work through the divorce process. Finding a mediator can be a tricky process. You have probably not hired a mediator in the past and you are not sure of what questions you should ask. Here are some tips on what to look for in a qualified divorce mediator and the proper questions you can ask each one you are considering.
First steps in the divorce process with a mediator
You can start by making a list of 5 or so mediators in your area. You can look in the phone book, ask a friend, check online, call state mediation agencies, ask a local attorney or a counselor/therapist.
Make a list of the questions you are going to ask each one and call them. After you have talked to each one, pare your list down to 2 and schedule appointments to meet face to face to discuss mediation.
Questions to Ask the divorce mediator
In most states, there are no requirements or guidelines for divorce mediators. Anyone can put up a sign saying they are a mediator and offer their services to any paying customer. Here are some questions you should ask so you can ensure that you will end up hiring a qualified mediator:
* What is your education/training for mediation? Your mediator should have a degree in counseling, social work, or psychology. It is even better, but not necessary, if your mediator has a law degree. Also, ask how many hours of mediation training he has undergone. The basic divorce mediation training is 40 hours, but he could have many more.
* Are you an attorney? Some attorneys decide to become a divorce mediator for additional income. While this may help when he files the final document with the court or in his familiarity with divorce law, he may be inexperienced with handling the required mediations. He may also not be skilled in conflict resolution.
* How long have you been practicing divorce mediation? You may prefer a mediator with a lot of experience or you seem to feel most comfortable with someone who is just getting started. If you do, know that they will be less experienced.
* Do you have any references? While the mediator will probably not provide you with names of past clients due to confidentiality, you could ask him for names of attorneys or therapists who could give you assurance of his skill and qualifications.
What is your approach to mediation? Each mediator has his own style. Some are more directive and others view themselves as facilitators. You need to determine how much control you and your spouse want to have in the negotiation. A facilitator will help each person make decisions through questions and dialogue. A more directive approach supplies specific proposals for resolving disputes with less discussion. Usually, a mediator will fall somewhere between these two examples. You need to decide which style you are most comfortable with.
* What do you charge? Fees charged by divorce mediators can vary widely from state to state. Some require payment up front while others charge for each session. In addition to the session fee, they will also charge for the Memorandum of Understanding and the final document that will be filed with the court. They may also charge you travel fees. Know their total fee schedule and compare.
Divorce is never a fun experience. Choosing a mediator that works for you can help you get through the process and move on with your life.
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