Important Questions to Ask a Divorce Mediator at the Initial Session

Important Questions to Ask a Divorce Mediator at the Initial Session

By Lisa RisnerSeptember 13, 2021

Divorce mediation can be an easier way to reach agreements with your spouse without spending countless hours in a courtroom. Instead, you can have a trained mediator guide your discussion and keep things on track.

However, it’s important to make sure mediation is a good fit for you, and that your mediator will be able to meet your needs. Here are some important questions to ask before committing to a mediator.

These questions will help you shop around to find the perfect fit.

Do You Offer Free Consultations?

This should be the first question you ask your divorce mediator, even before you schedule your first session together. A consultation will answer many of the questions you and your spouse have. It serves as a trial run for both of you to see how mediation will work.

At the consultation, you can ask some of these questions to get a better idea of how well your mediator fits your criteria. Your ideal mediator might be different from someone else’s, so have an idea of what you want and need from a mediator. 

What Experience Do You Have?

If you are looking for a skilled, professional mediator, you may want to look for someone experienced.

Experience is an excellent teacher, and someone who has counseled many couples over the years may have better advice and more finesse in their approach than someone new to the field. Someone’s experience will also tell you a bit about their areas of expertise and knowledge.

If you are seeking someone with more experience, be sure to ask this question before committing to a mediator. 

Is Mediation Your Full-Time Job?

It’s a good idea to ask your mediator how much of their time is devoted to mediation work. Some mediators have a full-time job and do mediation outside of it, while others devote their entire focus to mediation.

If you are working within a tight schedule, you may have a preference for mediators who work in this field full-time, as they may be able to devote more of their time to your case and help you complete your negotiations more quickly.

This question can also tell you a bit about your mediator’s qualifications. A mediator who is a full-time attorney may have the legal expertise you want for your unique situation. 

What Are Your Qualifications?

Not all mediators are equally qualified. There are no set qualification standards for mediators, but court mediators must complete 40 hours of training and a few mediation sessions under observation.

Many mediators have other qualifications that they bring to their work, however. Some have degrees or are licensed in fields like mental health, law, and accounting that prove very valuable during mediations.

A mediator who is skilled in law, finance, or even therapy can help you get the best results from your sessions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that will ensure your experience is a positive one.

What is Your Rate?

Mediators take different approaches to fees and payments. Some will ask for a retainer, and others will take hourly payment. Others charge a flat fee, which may take some budgeting to afford but may save money in the long term.

Before you settle in to pursue mediation, make sure that you understand the financial commitment you are making. It makes things easier for both you and the mediator.

Finding a mediator who is affordable but also meets your criteria may take some shopping around, but the results are worth it. 

Is Mediation the Right Choice for Me?

When you first meet your mediator, you still may not be convinced that this is the right path for your divorce. You can discuss the process and see how you and your spouse interact with a third party in the room. You may be surprised at the difference it makes.

If you are still considering taking your divorce to court, bring up your specific concerns and the specifics of your divorce with your mediator. They can let you know whether or not they’re the best person to help you, and whether your situation lines up with their area of expertise.

A mediator can help you choose the issues you want to discuss by picking the most relevant issues out of you and your spouse’s list of concerns. This will help the process go more quickly once you begin.

How Often Should We Meet?

For many couples, mediation takes more than one session. Ask your mediator about their usual approach to meeting frequency.

You’ll need to schedule mediation sessions around the schedules of you, your spouse, and the mediator, so this may end up being one of the most important questions to ask. More frequent sessions will help you finish the process more quickly.

If your mediator has a difficult, packed schedule, the process could end up taking longer, or else it may not have their full attention.

Look for someone whose schedule is compatible with yours and your spouse’s so you can make progress as quickly as possible. 

Will You Draft the Final Agreement?

The entire mediation process is spent working toward a final goal of reaching a settlement agreement. The agreement should have details about child support and custody, division of property and debts, and other essential decisions.

Only a mediator who is an attorney will be able to draft your final agreement in legal terms, which will then be filed in court as a legal document. However, a mediator without legal qualifications can help you draft a memorandum of understanding.

A memorandum of understanding must then be finalized by a lawyer who has the ability to turn the document into something legally binding. At this point in the process, you may want to bring in your own lawyer to assess the document before signing it. That will help you ensure the agreement is fair and protects your interests.

Find a Reliable Divorce Mediation for Your Needs

Our services are available at a flat rate that includes mediation, paperwork, and filing documents at the courthouse. We provide divorce mediation Irvine City, covering different locations in California.

Schedule your free consultation, contact us at Divorce Mediation of California today.

369 San Miguel Dr #100, Newport Beach, 
CA 92660, USA
© 2024 Divorce Mediation of California, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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