What Should You Look For in a Divorce Mediator?

What Should You Look For in a Divorce Mediator? by Susan Ingram

{3:12 minutes to read}

There is a combination of important qualities that I believe divorce and family mediators must possess in order to do the best job possible for their clients. I describe these qualities below, as well as some of the ways to ascertain whether your soon-to-be hired mediator possesses them.

Training

Mediation requires a unique and different skill-set from other professions. That’s why it is so important that mediators have specific training in mediation. And that doesn’t mean that taking an introductory course of 30 or 40 hours will in any way suffice. Mediators who are truly dedicated to this work will repeatedly update their training and knowledge through continuing education over the entire span of their career. You should feel comfortable asking your mediator how much and what type of training she has.

Experience

It takes significant time for a mediator to develop the skills and acquire the knowledge to do this job well. You should ask your mediator how long she has been doing this work. Ideally, your mediator will have substantial experience over a continued period of years.

Additionally, if you have a unique situation, such as a child with special needs or a spouse who has an addiction problem, you should confirm that your mediator has experience and an understanding of these issues.

Commitment to Mediation

You will also want to know how long your mediator has been practicing, and what percent of her time is spent in mediation, as opposed to another profession (such as a lawyer or psychotherapist). Ideally, she will have a full-time career as a mediator—although, understandably, that’s not always feasible. At a minimum, you want to be able to sort out those individuals who are truly committed to mediation versus those who are not.

What you don’t want is someone who lists mediation as one of their skill-sets but really does little, if any, actual mediation. That’s what I refer to as the “Oh yeah, I do that too” response. For instance, I’ve heard that response from a number of litigation attorneys who do not have any knowledge of, nor inclination for, mediation. So beware of those types!

Going through a separation or divorce is a major life event, so you want to be sure that the mediator you choose to help you navigate this event is supportive, knowledgeable and empathetic. You should have a sense of confidence that this person will be able to handle all the issues that may arise during the mediation in a calm and competent manner.

 

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