If you and your spouse have decided that there are irreconcilable differences and it is time to part ways, you need to decide how to best go about dissolving the marriage. These days, couples are increasingly turning to divorce mediation as a way to avoid costly and protracted litigation. It can be a challenge. It is so important to find the right divorce mediator for your circumstances.
In my experience both as a mediator and having been through a divorce personally, there are several things to consider when choosing the right person to help you handle the proceeding. Here are 6 considerations that I feel are critically important:
1.Your divorce mediator should be trained and have particular expertise in family mediation.
The person mediating your divorce should be someone that is well-qualified to perform the family mediation role. This means, at a minimum, a mediator should:
- Have in-depth knowledge of divorce and the process;
- Have in-depth knowledge of the common issues around divorce, including its impact on the spouses, children and other participants as well as the financial impact on the family;
- Be well-educated and trained specifically in the process of mediation.
Furthermore, a mediator who is immersed in the field and has extensive experience not only in his/her own practice, but also in the mediation world in general, is more likely to have the depth of knowledge necessary to successfully resolve the unique issues you and your spouse will need to deal with.
2.Your divorce mediator should be dedicated exclusively to the practice of mediation.
There are some mediators who do divorce mediation full time, and others who are divorce litigation attorneys and do mediation on the side. While either could effectively mediate your divorce, attorneys do not always have the ideal mindset for this approach. Attorneys, by nature, are trained to be adversarial as they work to “win” a case. However, mediation is not about either side winning, it is about finding the solution that works best for both spouses and their family. A good way to know if someone is a full-time mediator is to look over their website; is mediation prominently mentioned on their site, or is it listed as just “another service”?
3.Your divorce mediator should be a neutral third party.
A good mediator is one that does not take the side of either party. Rather, he/she works hard to advocate for the best interests of each side and educate you on the settlement options you have, so you are empowered to make well-informed decisions.
4.Your divorce mediator should be a creative problem solver.
A mediator should take a more creative approach in resolving the issues at hand. For example, rather than crafting a “cookie cutter” settlement to issues such as division of assets and child custody (like would happen in a typical litigation proceeding), mediation should be about seeking alternative ways to come up with resolutions that in the end leave both parties better off.
5.Your divorce mediator should be compassionate.
A good mediator is not only one that will be an objective referee, but also one who truly understands what you are going through and can empathize with your circumstances. A neutral party who genuinely cares about the well-being of everyone involved is usually the best kind of mediator.
6.Your divorce mediator should be dedicated to a successful, win-win resolution.
Along the same lines as #5, a good mediator is one that wants you to emerge from the divorce proceeding in a position to successfully move forward with your lives. We all understand that divorce is far from the ideal, and your divorce mediator should always make certain this is definitely what both of you want before you begin the proceeding. And if you are not yet at this point, he/she should refer you to a therapist or someone similar who can help you decide if this is your best option.