What to Know Before Using a Divorce Mediator
Hiring a Divorce Mediator
Choosing the right mediator is crucial.
A mediator doesn’t have to be a lawyer. But he or she should be well-versed in divorce and family law, and have significant experience mediating divorces. It’s a good idea to interview a few mediators before making your choice. If you’re already working with a divorce attorney, ask for a referral.
Find a Mediation Expert With Training and Experience
While no training or licensing is required of mediators, training courses are available. Find out whether your prospective mediator has taken a basic training course (typically 40 hours of training), and inquire about continuing education. In addition, be sure to ask how many cases he or she has mediated – and how many of those were mediated successfully.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for References
Asking for references is a great step to use in choosing your mediator. Mediation is confidential, so most likely the mediator won’t give you the names of clients. However, you can ask for other mediators, therapists, or attorneys here in Orange County who can vouch for his or her qualifications.
Tips for Determining the Expertise of Your Potential Divorce Mediator
Is your mediator an authority? Has he or she written any articles on mediation or trained other mediators? Do you feel comfortable with the mediator? How does the mediator feel about your working with other attorneys? Can he or she refer other related professionals, such as finance professionals, child specialists and mental health experts?
Preparing for Mediation
We recommend the following steps to better prepare your for your first meeting with a divorce family mediator.
- Create a list of all your assets and possessions, as well as all your debts. Include all real estate, personal property (yes, that means books, DVDs, furniture, artwork, jewelry), vehicles, bank accounts, credit cards, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, annuities, stocks and other financial products. Account for everything you own. The same goes for your liabilities, including mortgage payments—and the balance on your loan, car loans, health insurance costs, food, utilities, student or home equity loans, and credit card balances. You’ll also need proof of income for both you and your spouse. That includes items such as paystubs, pension disbursements and Social Security, along with tax returns.
- Create a budget. Know how much money you spend on a monthly basis and how much money you will need to pay your living expenses.
- Decide what’s truly important to you, and what you can live without. You’ll probably want to create another list. Know ahead of time what you hope to get – and what you won’t walk away from, no matter what.
- You’ll need a clear head. Put your emotions aside and be prepared to participate in a negotiation process. If you need to vent, get a therapist or join a support group. Being emotional will only work against you, preventing you from making rational, reasonable decisions.
- Express any concerns you may have, so you and your spouse can discuss them. Some parents are concerned about future travel with the kids. Others are worried about a specific family member. And sometimes there are concerns about introducing children to a new significant other. Everything is relevant. The goal is productive co-parenting and peace of mind.
Find a Mediator that Helps You Collaborate on a Divorce Settlement that Works for Your Whole Family
No matter how you go about achieving it, divorce is difficult. But, like everything else in life, you can decide how difficult you want to make it, simply by becoming educated about your options. Find the best family mediation choices available to you here in Southern California.
Mediation can make the process less of a battle and more of an equal exchange of ideas, focused on the best interests of all family members.