Divorce mediation is becoming more common than ever. Some judges order the parties to resolve divorce issues using a mediator, and some couples make the decision on their own. However it happens, the mediator and the skills they bring to the practice are vitally important. Read on to find out more about using a mediator to help you with your divorce issues.
Ask for Some Referrals and Recommendations
If your mediation is court-ordered, the judge may provide you with a list of approved mediators to use. You might also confer with your divorce lawyer about mediators they've had good experiences with. Mediators, while not specifically trained in the legal aspects of divorce issues, often help couples to forge agreements that become part of the divorce. You and your spouse's divorce lawyers need to respect and work alongside the mediator you choose. You might want to ask friends and family that have used a mediator for a recommendation too. Finally, if you are participating in mental health counseling to help you deal with the stresses of divorce, your therapist can be a good source of information about mediators to interview for the job.
Check on Their Credentials
At present, there is no governing body overseeing and licensing divorce mediators. Those recommended by judicial officials are often vetted by the courts, but others may not be. Be sure to find out about the educational background of the mediator as well as how long they've been doing the work. Some belong to organizations that require mediators to have certain levels of expertise, training, and experience. Be wary of those who practice mediation part-time or who have resumes filled with unrelated positions. Look for mediators with legal experience or who are in the mental health or social science field.
Conduct an Interview
You (and your spouse) are paying for the services of the mediator – not the judge and not your attorney. With that in mind, plan on speaking with more than one mediator before you decide on one. When you interview them, do so with a focus on the specific area of your divorce that is contentious. For example, if you and your spouse are fighting over child custody, you want a mediator that can speak about past child custody cases and how they were resolved with help from mediation. If you are dealing chiefly with financial issues, be sure they are up-to date on current divorce laws in regard to property and debts. Finally, be sure you like the mediator and can work well with them during the sessions. Both of you need to be able to listen to and get along with the mediator chosen.
Ask your divorce lawyer how a mediator can help you and your spouse resolve your divorce issues.