Choosing the Right Mediator
Mediation is a structured process where both parties agree on and hire a neutral third party, also known as a mediator, to assist the parties in reaching a solution. During mediation, the parties are usually kept in separate rooms (with their respective attorneys, if hired), and the mediator hops between the two rooms to facilitate an agreement. The key to a successful mediation is to be reasonable and realistic about the outcome of your divorce, but it is also imperative you choose the right mediator for your case. Here are some factors you should think about when deciding who you want to hire as a mediator.
Ask the mediator about their fees. Most mediators have flat rates for half-day mediations and full-day mediations. They will charge by the hour if mediation extends past the allotted amount of time, so ask them what their hourly fee is as well. On average, usually a half-day session will suffice. Also, what are their cancellation fees? Perhaps you might have an emergency or your spouse just decides not to show up, so you would want to know what would happen given those circumstances. From my experience with mediators, many do not charge a cancellation fee. They do, however, ask you to be courteous with their time. A cancellation means that slot could have gone to another case.
How many successful mediations have they conducted? What is their track record? That is, how many mediations have ended in agreement? Also ask about any certifications they have received and any training they have attended. Experience is a plus, but it is not the most important consideration. All great mediators were once brand new mediators.
3. Subject Matter Expertise
Family law cases can be difficult to navigate. It is imperative you hire a mediator with extensive knowledge of family law. The mediator should be familiar with how the courts and judges tend to rule on certain issues. I like to choose mediators that are practicing family law attorneys, former family attorneys, or retired family law judges. They are able to provide a realistic view on child support, child visitation, and other family-related issues. Mediators who simply handle civil cases may not be able to provide as much helpful insight.
4. Good fit
Make sure the mediator is a good fit. Ask if you can interview them or visit their office. After all, you are going to be paying them a decent amount of money! Ask if they keep the parties in separate rooms. Family law cases can get contentious, so my preference is to have the parties in separate rooms. In addition, you want a mediator you can feel comfortable with because some issues are personal. You want to be able to discuss these issues.
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