Picked the Wrong Spouse? Don’t Pick the Wrong Mediator

When a couple decides to divorce, mediation can be a very smart option for bringing a marriage to an end. Mediation is a dynamic interactive process where a neutral third party assists in resolving conflicts on the way to a settlement. Alternative dispute resolution techniques are the foundation of the process which the mediator employs to structure the negotiations. Mediation has many uses and a few are listed here:

• Worker’s compensation
• Family business
• Discrimination
• Labor management
• Land-use
• Landlord/tenant conflicts
• School issues
• Divorce

If the decision has been made to divorce through mediation then the couple needs to decide who that mediator will be. Anyone can legally call themselves a mediator so a husband and wife will right away want to look for certain qualifications before deciding who will head up their divorce negotiations. Couples want to make sure that who they hire has a strong knowledge of the state divorce laws. Your mediator is NOT your lawyer and is not there to dispense legal advice. However, it is important that they are familiar with the laws so they could know how the courts would rule in a certain situation.

Although everyone needs to start somewhere, it is preferred that a mediator has at least a dozen cases notched in the belt so that there is enough experience in guiding the process to completion. A certification from a recognized association is extremely important since it shows the mediator has been properly trained. The mediator should indicate a commitment to follow the Model Standards of Practice for Family and Divorce Mediation. If the person being considered does not know what that is, the spouses should move on.

It is better to hire a mediator who specializes in divorce mediation and not someone who does it here and there. Someone who does this line of work all the time will likely do a better job than someone who does not. A mediator needs to be knowledgeable in complex family and financial topics, and have access to professionals who can be brought in when an issue is beyond the mediator’s scope of expertise. Couples should be wary of a mediator who comes across as someone who is a bit too laid back. Even amicable divorces can get heated during negotiations, and the mediator must have a strong enough personality to keep things in control. The mediator is trained to recognize imbalances of power between couples and it is his or her job to keep the discussions on a level playing field. On the other hand, an overly “tough” personality can have a negative effect on negotiations. This often happens when the mediator is an ex-judge who is used to being in charge and expects to call the shots. In such a situation, the spirit of mediation is out the window and control is surrendered to the mediator. Remember that one of the biggest reasons a couple chooses mediation is so that they can determine their own future. Do not seek the services of someone who does not respect that.

There are certain things your mediator will not be. They are not going to be your friend, lawyer, therapist or marriage counselor. A mediator has an important job in guiding a couple through a life-changing event. That is where the focus should be and not someplace else. When everyone knows their roles, while allowing the process to evolve like it should, each of the three parties should expect satisfactory results.

To find a mediator go to: www.thecourtlessdivorce.com and view the directory page for professionals in your area. Download The Courtless Divorce book for free to get more information on mediation. This blog was written by Michael Heath who is the author of The Courtless Divorce.