When facing divorce you may think the only route is to choose a divorce attorney and battle it out in court; this isn’t so. There are a number of options you can explore in divorce, especially if your divorce isn’t contested and you’re on somewhat amicable terms with your soon to be ex. Mediation is a cost effective, less stressful approach to negotiating your divorce that helps you maintain a degree of control.
The first step in the mediation process is choosing a divorce mediator who is professional, experienced, and competent. With the right mediator the divorce process can be much less time consuming, costly, and much less stressful than the traditional divorce process.
The following tips for choosing the right mediator will help make your divorce successful for all involved:
Select a mediator who has met all or many of the following criteria:
- Has a good reputation in your community; is well liked and respected
- Is recommended by a friend or colleague who was happy with the outcome of his or her divorce
- Has more than ten years of successful mediation experience
- Is specifically experienced in divorce mediation (more than five years experience)
- Completed at least 40 hours of professional mediation training
- Familiarity with, and experience in family laws in your state
- Has skills and expertise dealing with issues specific to your case (child custody, child support, asset division, etc.)
- Successfully settles a high number of divorce cases through the mediation process
- Maintains a mediation practice that devotes all or a majority of time to divorce cases
- Makes you feel comfortable by giving you undivided attention, fully listening to you, and respecting and taking seriously your concerns
- Explains the mediation process in an easy to understand language
- Answers all of the questions you have with knowledgeable, well explained responses
- Charges reasonable fees you can afford
- Provides a written retainer agreement for services
There are many mediators to choose from when faced with divorce; to be successful you must be selective and avoid certain mediators. Take the time to know whom you’re choosing.
Avoid mediators who:
- Have a reputation for favoring men.
- Engage in work or personal relationships with your husband, his business, or members of his family or business partners
- Have less than 5 years of experience in divorce mediation
- Have less than 5 years of mediation experience
- Have less than 40 hours of professional mediation training
- Are unfamiliar with family laws in your state
- Possess limited or no experience with issues specific to your case such as child support and child custody
- Seem rushed, overbearing, pushy, or unconcerned with your case and specific concerns you mention
- Are unwilling to take the time to thoroughly answer your questions or explain things in a way you understand
- Charge expensive fees you can’t afford
- Refuse to provide a written retainer agreement
- Make you feel uncomfortable in any way (trust your intuition)
Choosing a mediator that you are comfortable with and confident in their abilities, expertise, and experience is vital for successful divorce mediation. Taking the time to meet with several mediators, asking them questions, and discussing some of your case is essential before you and your spouse select a mediator to use. To simplify the process, use our Mediator Interview Questionnaire and Mediator Evaluation Worksheet.
Follow your intuition; if you don’t feel right about someone, don’t use them. There are many mediators to choose from. This is an important crossroads in your life; choose wisely.
When you take the time to make the right decisions in your divorce – from the right lawyer or mediator to the custody arrangement that works best for all – divorce can be less painful for all involved. This is one time in your life when rushing isn’t the best choice. Making thoughtful, intuitive, and educated decisions now will save you future stress or regret.
This article is not legal advice. You should consult an attorney
if you have legal questions that relate to your specific divorce.