Divorce mediation involves multiple parties — besides your soon to be ex and his/her attorney, your attorney and you, there is third party that plays a crucial role in determining the outcome of the mediation process: The divorce mediator. Unlike an attorney who represents your interests, a divorce mediator acts as just that — a mediator, who helps both parties arrive at an agreement. Choose right and you should be able to reach a practical and feasible solution faster and with less heartache. Equally, making the wrong choice could cause things to go downhill fast.
Here are some pointers to help you zero in on the right divorce mediator for your needs.
Check their credentials
It is important that your divorce mediator be suitably trained to handle mediations of this nature. Check where they took their basic mediation course and whether they have any specialization in family mediation. Do a little digging to understand the reputation and rigor of the body that conducted the course. Check if they had a co-mediation stint or apprenticeship of some kind as part of their mediation training. It is perfectly acceptable to request to see their mediation certificate (a copy should be alright).
But don’t rely on qualifications alone
Simply hiring someone with an LLM or a PhD doesn’t mean you’ve got an expert mediator. Find out about their background and expertise. How long have they been mediating divorce cases? How many cases have they handled in total? See if they have had success with cases similar to your own. Check if they are actively involved in the activities of the mediation community and are genuinely committed to their field of work.
Go with someone you will be confident in and comfortable around
The softer side of things, and one that’s hard to define, is the vibe you get when you are talking to the divorce mediator. If he/she inspires confidence and makes you feel relaxed and at ease to open up, then they may be a good choice. You need to feel free to speak without fear of judgement, and to someone who will listen with an open mind.
Ask for references
When it comes to divorce mediation, it is a good idea to go to someone tried and tested. If you have the option, use someone referred to you by a friend or family member or someone known to them. It is more likely you will find them easier to work with.
Know your personal preferences
With divorce mediation being relatively less regulated, there are no hard and fast rules on who can be a divorce mediator. You could go the route of choosing a therapist as a mediator, someone who can help you deal with the emotional challenges that come with the divorce, as they guide you and your spouse towards an agreement. Alternatively, you could pick a legal expert — a divorce mediator with a legal background, someone who can help structure a legally valid and fair agreement.
Use a specialized firm
A firm more specialized in divorce mediation comes with the added expertise of understanding financial ramifications of a divorce. They also tend to be more neutral and fair when it comes to meditation on areas like parenting, ensuring both sides get a fair deal and the family walks away stronger. The teams at such firms are well trained at helping estranged couples find some common ground so they can move forward towards a settlement without resorting to a trial.
Gerald A. Maggio is a trained Orange County divorce mediator who has amicably resolved cases many cases out of court, as well as an experienced divorce and family law attorney. Mr. Maggio founded California Divorce Mediators in 2012 with the belief that although “not every marriage can be saved, every family can” and a mission to save families from the financial and emotional distress associated with traditional divorce litigation. California Divorce Mediators is located in Irvine, California, and serves the Orange County area and other counties in California offering divorce mediation, child custody mediation and mediation of other family law matters.