If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage through mediation rather than litigation, one of the first major decisions to make in this cooperative endeavor is whom to hire as your mediator. It’s essential that you choose someone whom both of you trust to help you work out agreements that are fair and acceptable to both of you and, if you have children, put their interests first.
You can seek recommendations from family, friends and colleagues who mediated their divorces. However, there are some important things to consider as you meet with one or more mediators to determine whether they will provide the guidance you need to work through the process amicably and efficiently. Let’s look at a few of those things.
Does the mediator specialize in family law mediation?
Some mediators do all kinds of mediation, including civil lawsuits and business and employment litigation. Family law mediation requires unique skills and training. You want someone who focuses the majority of their practice (and preferably all of it) on divorce and other family law matters.
Do you trust the mediator?
It can be hard to determine this after one meeting. However, you can get a feel for how comfortable you are with someone. Remember that they’ll be hearing intimate details of your life – and not always ones that are flattering to you.
You want someone who is honest and impartial. If they encourage you to have your own outside legal and other professional assistance (which is allowed in mediation), that’s a positive sign that they’re not trying to control the outcome.
What is their background in mediation and dispute resolution?
A mediator may have gone to the best law school in the country, but if they haven’t had significant training in divorce mediation, they’re not the best choice. While you’re talking about their qualifications, ask what their process is and what ethical standards they follow.
Being an attorney is not a requirement for divorce mediators. However, since you’ll be working out legal agreements together, it’s in your best interest if your mediator knows Michigan family law.
If you and your spouse are both involved in choosing your mediator and are both comfortable with your choice, you’re off to a good start in working through your divorce peacefully and moving on with your lives.