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Your choice of divorce mediator could affect your negotiations

Perhaps you and your soon-to-be former spouse made the conscious decision to stay out of court. You want to use mediation to resolve your issues and reach a fair and equitable settlement. You both agree that this provides you with the best option for ending your marriage as amicably as possible.

In mediation, divorcing spouses have the chance to discuss options that the court may not think of.  The mediator will help spouses generate these options by inquiring about each spouse's needs.  For instance, if one spouse is firm in their desire to retain the marital home, the mediator might ask why the house is so important.  In asking this question, the mediator may learn that the spouse is really just concerned about having a stable place to live with their children. 

In litigation, spouses are focused on the positions they will take in court.  By shifting the focus to the family's needs, the mediator can help them find a solution that is best for their individual family.   

Selecting a mediator

During mediation, you will discuss intensely personal matters. The raw emotions attached to these matters can derail a mediation session and prevent you from dealing with other issues like your finances and assets and debts.  It is important to have a mediator with whom you feel comfortable discussing emotionally charged issues, but who can also help you focus on the financial and legal issues at hand.

Some essential qualities

When choosing a mediator, it may help to consider the following essential qualities:

  • Does the mediator have sufficient experience and training? Though an attorney's experience dealing with family law issues can make them a great mediator, a mediator does not have to be an attorney. Mediators can be mental health professionals who are skilled in helping you navigate emotionally charged issues.
  • Does the mediator predominantly, or at least regularly, deal with divorce mediation? Mediators trained in divorce mediation will likely be best equipped to mediate divorce related issues.
  • Does the mediator charge by the hour or charge a flat fee? Regardless, it will be important for you and your spouse to decide how you will pay these fees.  Sometimes, the mediator can help you make this decision early on.

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