The Right Divorce Mediator is Essential for Effective Divorce Negotiations
Separation or divorce signifies a major transition in your life. By its very nature, a divorce period means extra tension and stress in your life. Unfortunately, that tension can easily work against your best interests.
Too often, divorce attorneys try to capitalize on the anxiety of clients whose marriage is falling apart. By encouraging suspicion and deceit, these attorneys convince their clients to mount an aggressive court battle over property and child custody. In the end, the attorneys emerge as the only winners from such a conflict, because confrontational litigated divorces boost the lawyers’ billable hours.
Divorce mediation was invented as an alternative to the hard-fought (and expensive!) courtroom divorce. A mediator works hand-in-hand with the divorcing couple, encouraging them to work cooperatively so they can set the terms of their breakup. Even if the mediator is a licensed attorney, he or she doesn’t provide legal representation or advice for either side. A divorce mediator is a neutral third party whose role is to strengthen the lines of communication and facilitate constructive negotiations.
The focus of mediation sessions is on the divorcing couple, their children, and their relationship. Nevertheless, the mediator stands at the center of this interactive process of collaborative problem solving. It should be obvious that choosing the right divorce mediator can mean the difference between success and failure.
What to look for when selecting a divorce mediator
Of course, no single person is able to function as the “best mediator” in all cases. Clients vary in their needs, in their goals, and in their attitudes to mediation. A skillful family law mediator will use a variety of different approaches to ensure fair consideration of all divorce issues, but no mediator will fit the needs of every couple. You and your spouse should make every effort before the first session to determine whether a particular mediator will be a suitable match for you.
Here are four things to look for:
- Experience. A mediator who has “put in the hours” working the gamut of mediation cases will learn a little bit from each encounter. The depth of his or her experience will enrich your mediation process and make it more likely you can reach a successful conclusion with your spouse. Sure, some mediators may have natural talent that enables them to be effective right out of law school—but a long record of success at divorce mediation is an indication that experience has sharpened a particular mediator’s skills.
- Professional expertise and background. Not all states have a certification process in place for divorce mediators. In a state that has weak regulations, someone with limited training may be able to pass himself off as a mediator. You should ask your mediator about his credentials as a mediator, and also about his professional background and how that enhances his role in moderating negotiations. While it is not essential that your mediator also be an attorney, it is vital that he have a solid working knowledge of divorce law in your state in order to guarantee your mediated divorce agreement will be accepted by the courts.
- Personality. Meet with your mediator before the first scheduled session if at all possible; many mediators offer orientation sessions for a small fee. It is important that your mediator’s approach and personality fit well with yours and your spouse’s. Talk to the mediator about his attitude toward the negotiation process: does he favor a warmly supportive environment, or a matter-of-fact and systematic approach? Neither one is wrong—what matters is whether the mediator’s style will be helpful in leading you and your spouse toward a final agreement.
- Communication skills. A good mediator can communicate well. He can cut through clutter and find common ground between the parties’ positions, and he can explain any legal requirement in terms everyone can understand. Even more importantly, your mediator must be a great listener: someone who can summarize your positions and identify your interests accurately, in a way that promotes cooperative decision making.
Mediation services from Divorce Done Right
Divorce Done Right has talented and experienced divorce mediators available nationwide. Be wary of hiring a mediator from any association that does not adhere to our standards:
- All of our mediators are certified under the appropriate state regulatory agencies.
- They all have complementary professional backgrounds as attorneys, therapists, or social workers.
- They all have had extensive experience in family mediation.
Learn what resources we have to offer in your area by calling (866) 337-4448 today. We believe there is a Divorce Done Right mediator in our network who is a great match for your case.