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Divorce & Family Law Help
Choosing a Divorce Mediator
If you and your spouse decide to end your marriage, you may wish to consider engaging a divorce mediator before you go to court to legally complete the divorce. You also may be ordered into divorce mediation by the court prior to the final proceedings. Divorce mediators are neutral third parties who can help you and your spouse come to reasonable, amicable terms of separation and save you a considerable amount of court time, as well as considerable stress. Most divorce mediators are counselors or solicitors, and they are available to help you through what is often an incredibly difficult time in your life.
When you are choosing a divorce mediator, there are several important considerations you should make. You and your spouse must consensually decide and agree upon who will be responsible for locating and engaging the divorce mediator. Should you be responsible for locating one, your first step should be to obtain a list of mediators in your area. Eliminate any of the choices that have not received formal mediation training first. After that, contact those remaining on your list for a brief telephone conversation to decide with which ones you feel most comfortable. Once you have narrowed down your list, schedule a free consultation with your final choices in order to settle on one.
The background of the divorce mediator you work with is especially important. Find out how long he or she has been performing divorce mediation, and make sure the proper credentials are present - a degree from a prestigious university, recognition from an established organization, and experience are things that can help to ensure your mediation will be in good hands. Additionally, you may want to consider locating a divorce mediator who is also a solicitor. Some mediators are only trained in counseling, and while this can be of great help in easing the tension and strain that accompanies a divorce, it is helpful when your mediator is able to provide you with sound legal advice as well.
You should also be sure to find out about the fees involved with a divorce mediator before you agree to work with one. Oftentimes, consultations with a divorce mediator are far less expensive than trial time with a solicitor, so the more issues you and your spouse can resolve through mediation, the lower your ultimate court costs will be for both of you. Generally you should expect to pay a retainer fee and then an hourly fee, the same as you would with a solicitor; however, the rates for divorce mediators are lower than those for solicitors. With whomever you choose to engage for your mediation, be sure to request a retainer agreement or a written contract for services before your first session. You will want to ensure that everything is spelled out in black and white. You and your spouse should discuss who will be financially responsible for the mediation, and you may choose to split the costs. In any case, be sure this is spelled out in your mediation contract.
If you have been a victim of domestic violence, you will likely not want to engage in divorce mediation. Though many courts often require mediation for divorce, victims of domestic violence can speak with a mediator and ask to have the case declared inappropriate for mediation. You can also file a motion to be excused from mediation on the grounds of domestic violence, should the situation be unsafe for you to participate in. Another option for victims of domestic violence in the case of mediation is “shuttle” mediation, which involves having the mediator meet with you and your spouse on separate days in separate locations. This is a permissible method of mediation where the safety of either party in a divorce is a concern.
Working with a divorce mediator can be quite helpful in settling a divorce. By utilizing a neutral third party to mediate and resolve differences, often a couple who is choosing to end their marriage can separate on good terms, and prepare themselves to work together even if they are no longer a couple - particularly when there are children involved. Choosing the right divorce mediator can be helpful in easing the strain that a divorce brings to separating families. If it is possible for you and your spouse to work together in selecting and speaking with a divorce mediator, you will have considerably less stress both during and after the process.