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  • Writer's pictureAlan Jacobs

Finding the Right Family Mediator for You

The connection between you and your mediator can be a very personal one. Whether we are working through a divorce, custody issue, or modification, there must be a level of trust between the mediator and his or her clients. You and the other individual in mediation will rely on your mediator to provide unbiased information in order to facilitate a productive conversation. You both need to be educated about the divorce process and how you can best pursue your interests while in mediation. How a mediator approaches the relationship with the mediation participants has a significant impact on how successful the mediation works.

There are some pointers that may help guide you choose the right mediator for your situation. The first tip is educate yourself about the mediation process. Read about how mediation works and consider how your divorce or family law issue fits into the mediation process. Understanding how mediation works, and applying this knowledge to the specific issues in your legal matter, will help you understand the skills, temperament and background that will best suit you in a mediator.

Another great way to find a mediator is through word of mouth. The people who will have the best input on how a particular mediator works will always be the ones who have gone through a mediation already. Because others have been through the process, already, they can recount the details of their mediator, including what they did, how they were treated, and how effective their mediation style was in resolving the issues at hand.

Of course, finding people who have gone through mediation is not always easy, and often requires delving deep into your network of friends, family, and even acquaintances. However, once you find someone who has firsthand knowledge of a mediator, it is worth investigating. However, take into account the differences between you and the person with whom you are speaking. They may have liked their mediator being straightforward but that may not suit your needs; on the other hand, depending on the unresolved issue or issues, you may require a mediator who can be blunt or one who is more passive.

If you don’t know anyone who has used a divorce mediator from your own life, another great option is to ask a local family law attorney who does not specialize in mediation. Divorce and family law attorneys are generally of the best local divorce mediators in a given area, and most are happy to offer a referral if you pick up the phone and ask.

Reputation Matters: Select a Mediator with the Right Background

Mediation is becoming more and more popular, which can be helpful, but also risky. If you are dealing with a custody or divorce issue, you want to be sure your mediator is educated and experienced in these areas. Being a lawyer is not a prerequisite to being a mediator. If you are interested in a particular mediator, check to see if they have a website and read about their particular experience. A particular mediator may have been around for many years, but may lack polish or practice in preparing a solid divorce agreement that must stand up in court.

Your mediator needs to be knowledgeable about your particular issues. Because Massachusetts law does not require extensive mediator training, almost anyone can “hang a shingle” and call themselves a divorce mediator in the state. You should ask tough questions like: does this mediator understand the legal concepts surrounding divorce, custody, alimony and child support that are being negotiated? Can you verify the reputation of the mediator or his or her organization or employer?

While there is no perfect mediator out there, there certainly is a mediator who is right for you in your current situation. Ask questions. Do your research. Make calls. Come in for a meeting.

Avoid Retainers with Pay-As-You-Go Mediation

It can be hard to know whether mediation is right for you and your spouse. The decision only gets harder when a mediator requires a big retainer up front. With pay-as-you-go mediation through Falmouth Mediation, you only pay for the mediation services you use. There are no retainers or up-front financial commitments. Call for more information today at (508) 566-4159.

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