Choosing the right mediator is important.
You’re going to be talking with your mediator about everything you care anything about in the entire world: Your future, your kids, your home, your job…..and so you want to choose someone you feel comfortable with.
Mediators are all trained in basically the same way, but each person has a different way that they practice. So ask if they have a free mediation orientation (or if they charge just to meet them) and do a little research. Click on the link above for our mediation orientation outline and information.
When you talk with the mediator and the office staff, how are you treated? Are they patient and do they answer your questions? Or is it just an answering service without any information and they are slow getting back to you?
Are they generous with resources and do they encourage self-help? The “really useful free stuff” below includes an interactive divorce mission statement you can do in just a minute or two, an interactive divorce journal you can download for free, and worksheets and checklists to get you organized and started. They were written by Peace Talks Mediation Services founder, Diana Mercer, as a supplement to her most recent book, Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life.
Need a mediator but you’re not in Los Angeles? Mediate.com lets you search for a mediator by your telephone area code.
My colleague Fern Topas Salka came up with a good interview list:
Questions to Ask a Mediator
If you are interviewing a mediator ask these questions:
1. Why did you become a mediator?
2. What do you see as your goal for a mediation?
3. What kind of commitment do you need form us to agree to mediate?
4. Will you want to meet separately with us? If so, why? And if so, would you hold secrets?
5. How familiar are you with Family Law?
6. Will you tell us how you think a court would decide our case?
7. How important is the law to you in mediation?
8. How would you deal with stalemates?
9. How do you feel about our using consultants, including consulting lawyers?
10. Would you talk directly to our lawyers?
11. How do you see your role in our communication with each other?
12. What is the place of our feelings in this process?
13. How do you feel about our talking to each other about our conflicts outside the mediation office?
14. What mediation training have you undertaken?
15. How much mediating experience do you have?
16. What is your fee? Can you estimate the total cost for my cases, or give me an average cost for cases like mine?
17. Do you require a retainer?
That’s a lot of questions! But feel free to ask the ones that are important to you. How your mediator answers questions like these will give you a good idea of how he or she will answer your questions during your actual mediation session.