Mediation can save you time and money when facing the split of your marriage, and it can keep you from going to divorce court. Finding a mediator is probably the most challenging part of the process, especially if you succeed in finding a skilled professional to handle your case.
It’s unfortunate that no regulations currently exist in California for mediation services. That means that anyone who’s willing can hang a sign above their door hailing themselves as a Divorce Mediator.
Here are some points to consider when searching for the most skilled mediator in your area to handle your upcoming divorce case.
What is a Skilled Mediator?
A mediator is a neutral party who will conduct the divorce proceedings. The guidelines for mediation and an explanation of the process can be found in the California Evidence Code, Sections 1115-1128. Broken down, the process of mediation will see you and your spouse working with the mediator to come to an amicable settlement regarding all matters, including alimony, child support, child custody, visitation, and others.
A mediator is not a judge, but rather, a mediator is there to help facilitate cooperative communication between you and your spouse to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
A “skilled” divorce mediator is one who has experience with your type of divorce and comes highly recommended. But how do you search for such a professional?
Get Your Spouse to Help
Since cooperation is the primary goal of the mediation process, this is the perfect opportunity to hit the ground running. Recruit your spouse to help you in your search for a skilled mediator. Finding a professional to handle your case jointly has another benefit: You’ll both know that the party is neutral and that you both agree on the mediator being chosen. This makes the process more comfortable for you and your spouse, paving the way to a fair and just mediation process.
Make a List of Candidates
You and your spouse can begin your search by asking for recommendations from trusted sources. This could mean a therapist or colleague, or another person you wholeheartedly trust. You never know when even a friend might have used a mediator they highly recommend.
Next, head online. Google reviews are a goldmine for discovering not only who is worthy of mediating over your divorce, but why they’re the ideal professional. Are they patient and knowledgeable about the process? Do they go out of their way to make both spouses feel informed and comfortable throughout the proceedings? Those are the types of reviews you’ll want to look for when rounding out your list.
Read the mediators’ blogs and try to gather as much information as possible about each professional in consideration.
For best results, add two to four divorce mediators to your list, then continue to the next step.
You can get an inkling of what someone is like by speaking over the phone, but you’ll have a much better job judging the mediators on your list by engaging in face-to-face interviews. Call each mediator on your list and ask to meet in person. If possible, get your spouse to go with you.
Most mediators offer a free 30-minute discovery session, but not always. Make sure you’re aware of any fees that coincide with these meetings.
Prepare for Your Interviews
Questions for the Mediator
Here is where the true determination is made for a skilled mediator to handle your case. You don’t want to show up for these interviews empty handed. This is your chance to grill the mediator and to determine if he or she is the best one for your needs.
First, write down a list of questions you want to ask. These questions should get right to the heart of the matter. For instance, you might ask:
- What training have you had as a mediator?
- Is your practice dedicated to mediation services?
- How much experience do you have as a mediator?
- What experience do you have with our specific types of complexities?
- What is your mediation style?
- How can you help spouses come to a cooperative agreement?
- Can spouses bring attorneys to the mediation meetings?
- What are your hours of availability, and how does your booking system work?
- What fees do you charge for mediation services?
Questions Between You & Your Spouse
You’ll then want to come up with a list of questions that you and your spouse can discuss after the meetings with each mediator on your list. Gauging the answers carefully can help you narrow down your list to a single skilled candidate.
- Did the mediator give you a detailed history of his or her training and experience?
- id the mediator make eye contact with both of you?
- Did you get to finish your questions before the mediator interjected?
- Did the room feel balanced when the mediator was speaking or did the mediator take full control?
- Did you feel safe and comfortable in the office? Was the office organized?
- Was there any indication that the mediator was non-neutral and would rather play judge?
- Did you both approve of the mediator’s style?
- Can you afford the mediator in question?
Hire the Best Divorce Mediator
By examining the answers to your questions, you should be able to determine which of the mediators on your list would be perfect for your divorce situation. Once again, you are searching for a professional who will remain neutral throughout the process. The individual should be able to stay level-headed, particularly during complex negotiations, and should be able to guide you and your spouse to a peaceful resolution quickly and fairly.
Are you and your spouse looking for a skilled mediator to help with your divorce? For mediation services by experienced divorce lawyers in Carlsbad, Vista and San Marcos, CA, call Fresh Start Mediation and schedule a free consultation.