THE TOP TEN WAYS TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT MEDIATOR: LOOKING FOR A GOOD FIT
You and your spouse have decided to divorce. Mediation is your choice. You agree not to litigate. The next step is to choose a mediator who is qualified and a good fit for you and your spouse. Working with the right divorce mediator is an important decision that can greatly influence the outcome of your divorce process. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a divorce mediator in Connecticut.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Research divorce mediators in your area. You can use online directories, legal associations, and recommendations from friends or family who have been through a similar process. You can look at recent reviews. However reviews should not be the main reason to choose a mediator. People have opinions based on their own personalities and needs including financial resources. A mediator might not be a good fit for one couple, but a great match for another. The best way to pick your mediator is to meet with several and get a sense of their personality and style. You will know when it is right fit- just go with your gut. Hopefully, you and your spouse will find the same mediator acceptable.
KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE
A mediator must have a strong understanding of Connecticut divorce laws and mediation training. The mediator’s knowledge helps guide the mediation process. A mediator will help you reach legally sound agreements. Check credentials, such as the mediator’s training, certifications, and years of experience. Most divorce mediators offer free consultations. When you meet the mediator, ask about their experience. Ask the mediator how many years have they been mediating. You can ask the number of couples they have worked with during their career. Keep in mind that years of experience is not always the defining criteria. Some new mediators will have a fresh outlook and more up to date on new methods and continuing education in the field of mediation.
REVIEWS AND REFERENCES
Read reviews or testimonials from past clients if available. You can also ask the mediator for references from clients who have worked with them in the past. It is important to read reviews; however there are times when one spouse may not be happy with the outcome of the mediation process.
A good divorce mediator will be a good listener. During your initial consultation, pay attention to eye contact and if the mediator is attentive and listening to you while you are speaking. You do not want a mediator who seems distracted or interrupts you or your spouse while you are talking. The consultation is the time when you get to talk, ask questions, and gather information. So you and your spouse should also be good listeners to ensure you make the most of the time with the mediator and can recall the information you receive after the consultation is over.
Reviews are only one factor to consider. Meet the mediator. Make your own decision on other factors and your initial impression. Is the mediator friendly, likeable, and attentive? Is this a person you feel you can work with? A successful mediation process relies on a good rapport between you, your spouse, and the mediator. Consult several mediators to assess their communication style, approach, and how comfortable you feel working with them. Discuss the mediator’s approach and the process they follow. Understand how they handle disputes, facilitate communication, and guide the negotiation process.
NEUTRAL AND IMPARTIAL
Ensure that the mediator you choose is truly neutral and impartial. The mediator must remain impartial and not give the appearance they have taken sides. Check for any conflicts of interest between you, your spouse, and the mediator. You want to ensure the mediator is not going to take sides or favor one spouse over the other. Remember, mediators are just people and have their own biases and life experience that could impact their impartiality.
Understand the mediator’s fee structure upfront. The majority of divorce mediators in the state of Connecticut charge an hourly rate and require an initial retainer payment. Clarify any additional costs that might arise during the mediation process.
Mediation relies on open communication. Ensure that the mediator emphasizes confidentiality, so you can freely discuss matters without fear of those discussions being used against you later in court.
LOCATION AND PROXIMITY TO HOME
Consider the location of the mediator’s office and whether it’s convenient for both you and your spouse to attend sessions.
TRUST YOUR INSTINCT
Ultimately, trust your instincts when choosing a mediator. If something doesn’t feel right or you don’t have confidence in a mediator’s abilities, it might be better to explore other options.
Remember that the choice of a divorce mediator can greatly impact the mediation process and the outcome of your divorce. Take the time to do your research, ask questions, and make an informed decision that will benefit both you and your spouse in the long run. If you choose divorce mediation, it is also recommended to consult an independent divorce attorney. Even in divorce mediation, it’s wise to consult with an attorney before making any final agreements. A legal professional can review the proposed agreements to ensure they align with your best interests and the current laws in Connecticut.
By: Attorney Mediator Susan Wakefield
If you have any questions or would like to speak to a divorce attorney or divorce mediator about divorce mediation or a family law matter, please contact one of our skilled divorce attorneys and divorce mediators at Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221-3100, or email JMaya@mayalaw.com. Maya Murphy offers free consultations to discuss divorce, and all other family law matters.