A mediated divorce happens when the spouses use a trained neutral mediator to help them reach agreements on the terms and conditions of property settlement, child custody and visitation. You and your spouse can save a great deal of money availing yourselves of the services of a mediator who helps the two of you come to agreement at a fraction of the cost of a court battle. Mediation is not about saving the marriage; ití s about making make the divorce work more easily. Remember, court battles take an emotional and financial toll, regardless of who filed or who is at fault. The court sometimes offers trained mediators who can help negotiate an agreement. Here is a checklist of points to consider when hiring a mediator:
- 1. What training has the mediator had? Basic divorce mediation training is 40 hours.
- 2. What is the scope of the mediation? Does the mediator involve himself in both economic and human sides of the divorce?
- 3. What are the mediatorí s fees? These vary significantly from region to region, but a comparison of various mediatorsí fees in your area is useful. Most mediators require payment at each session. Some will take a retainer up front. Some charge a flat fee for preparation of the Memorandum of Understanding, the final document of the mediation. Compare the fees and services of mediators.
- 4. How long has the mediator been in practice? Beginners are less experienced.
- 5. How long will the mediation take? This cannot be anticipated to the minute, but it is a good idea to have some idea of how long the process may take.
- 6. How much experience does he or she have in successful divorce mediations? Mediators often also handle community and business disputes. Make sure the mediator has adequate experience with divorce. What is the rate of settlement?
- 7. Will the mediator provide references? Can the mediator provide the names of other mediators, therapists, or attorneys who vouch for his or her qualification? The mediator may not be able to give you names of former clients because mediation is confidential.
- 8. What is the mediatorí s style? Mediatorís processes vary significantly. Some mediators are highly directive, assessing the likelihood a judge will sign off on one or another option and giving you concrete proposals for resolution of conflicts; others opt for a more facilitative approach, empowering the couple to make choices.
- 9. Does he offer a free consultation? Not everyone offers it, but you should ask.
- 10. Does the mediator have material to help you and your spouse make decisions? They might include a website, a brochure, specific information on the mediator, overview of divorce in your state, child support guidelines, issues to be covered in divorce mediation, relevant articles. Materials are a reflection of mediators. If you have the sense the materials are slap-dash, so might the process be. If, on the other hand, the materials are instructive, relevant and well put together, itís more likely the mediatorís process also will be.
- 11.What does the mediator think about attorney involvement? Good mediators recommend that attorneys for both parties review the agreement, a Memorandum of Understanding. This assures you protection from any legal oversights. Mediators frequently can supply clients with a list of mediation friendly attorneys who will protect you from those legal oversights without undermining your choice to collaboratively negotiate.
- 12. How do you feel about the mediator? Divorce is never fun. If you are uncomfortable with a mediator, for any reason, you should seek another one.