Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. Parties who are unwilling to go to court for a divorce may resort to mediation instead. One of the unique aspects of divorce mediation is that the parties get to select a mediator, unlike in a court setting. Since mediators have different methods and approaches, it’s important to choose someone who’s a good fit. It is equally important to consider a mediator’s background, training, and education. A qualified mediator is an important factor in successful mediation.
Qualities & Approach
Before starting the search, a party should first consider what qualities they’re looking for in a mediator. In choosing a mediator, the approach and method is equally as important as the educational qualifications and training. Parties should also consider their own personality as they will have to interact with the mediator on a close basis. For example, a mediator whose method is to push the parties will not be compatible with timid parties.
It’s equally important to inquire about the mediator’s method and approach. The key to a competent mediator often lies in their method and experience. A party should consider how he/she feels about the mediator’s method and decide if they can work with that approach.
Budget is another thing that has to be taken into consideration. Being a mediator is a paid job, and rates may differ. A more expensive mediator doesn’t necessarily mean a better mediator. It’s better to establish a budget and work within that allocated amount to avoid disagreements later on about paying the mediator fees.
One of the most important questions to ask a prospective mediator is regarding his or her background, education and experience. Mediators are expected to disclose these matters to parties, and most of them will be happy to provide detailed information. Knowing about a mediator’s background, training, and education will help in making an informed decision.
What Makes a Good Mediator?
A good mediator is neutral. He or she must not show any preference for either party. In addition, a mediator must possess qualities such as:
- Be a good and active listener
- Be able to analyze problems and identify issues
- Frame issues in a way that leads to resolution
- Use neutral language both in speaking and writing.
- Be sensitive to the issues and values of the party, as well as any differences between them.
- Be able to deal with complex facts and materials
- Possess a commitment to honesty, control, and dignified behavior.
- Be able to weed out the issues not proper for mediation
- Encourage parties to come to a creative solution.
Knowledge regarding the following is also crucial for a good mediator:
- Standards of practice applicable to mediation
- Ethical dilemmas
- The available dispute resolution procedures
- The context from which the dispute arose and how it can be settled.
Consulting With A Lawyer
An attorney can be an invaluable resource in selecting a mediator. Lawyers can often make recommendations about mediators, and they can also provide background of the mediation proceeding. Take note, however, that in mediation, the lawyer acts more like an advisor rather than an advocate. They do not plead on behalf of the clients, but rather give them advice and guidance. Ultimately, the decision is on the client.
Consulting With The Other Party
It’s important to bear in mind that both parties have to be able to work with the chosen mediator. If possible, it’s better to communicate with the other party regarding the selection of a mediator, ensuring that both are compatible with the chosen mediator.
During the initial meeting, parties meet with the mediator who will explain the basics of meditation as well as their chosen approach and method. At this point the parties will evaluate whether or not mediation is for them. If it’s not, don’t worry. Parties can withdraw from mediation at any time for any reason.