How to Choose a Mediator
You and your spouse may be in agreement that pursuing mediation is the best way to resolve your divorce. But out of the hundreds of names that pop up in a basic internet search of New Jersey divorce mediators, which one do you choose?
For better or worse, in New Jersey, anyone can hang out a shingle and call themselves a mediator. On the one hand, this opens up the opportunity for skilled professionals from many different backgrounds to provide the services of a neutral third party mediator. Some of these people include divorce attorneys, former judges, therapists, and more. On the other hand, picking just one mediator from this sea of divorce professionals can feel more than a little overwhelming.
You may have a list of several names that you are considering, or perhaps a friend passed along the name of a mediator he or she used. Wherever you are in the process of hiring a divorce mediator, here are seven factors to consider when choosing the best person for you and your divorce.
Experience: When it comes to skillfully helping couples navigate through the sometimes-choppy waters of divorce, there is no substitute for experience. Indeed, you don’t get a “second chance” to divorce, and you simply cannot afford to work with a mediator in New Jersey who doesn’t have extensive experience with divorce. In other words, this may be your first divorce, but you don’t want to be your mediator’s first divorce clients.
Training or credentials: Under New Jersey law, anyone can call him/herself a mediator. Some have undergone mediation training and are considered certified mediators. Some divorce mediators are also family lawyers. These mediators offer you the extra benefits of helping you settle on terms that are acceptable according to New Jersey family law, thereby saving you more time, money and aggravation.
Knowledge: The mediator you choose must be completely up-to-date on the best practices in divorce mediation, and the laws and protocols in New Jersey. Just like any other profession, there are new methods and approaches that are being developed all of the time. It’s critical that your mediator has in-depth knowledge of family law, so that he or she can use the best possible tools.
Reputation: Before you agree to hire a divorce mediator, ask for and analyze his or her references to confirm that you’re heading in the right direction.
Communication: At the heart of successful mediation is a mediator who understands how to facilitate communication between all parties involved. His or her style should be flexible, yet firm. An enhanced communication ability is all the more important if (and when) discussions between you and your spouse become tense. A good mediator will foster cooperation and help spouses focus on the issues that really matter as a way to get you moving forward towards a resolution.
Ability to Educate: Your mediator should demonstrate skill and ease with educating you on how mediation works, what it can do, and what it can’t do. Your understanding of how the process works will play a big role in your chances of success.
Reasonable Fees: Be sure to ask what their fees are and how they will apply the rate between you and your spouse. A good mediator in New Jersey may have rates similar to a divorce lawyer.
How do you know where a mediator ranks on all these factors? Ultimately, of course, a mediator is not a miracle worker. He or she can only use experience, knowledge, ability and skill to put you and your spouse in a position to succeed. However, never go by just what the person’s website or pamphlet says. Before hiring anyone, you and your spouse should each take time to interview prospective mediators to get a firsthand idea of who might be the best fit.
Considering mediation in New Jersey?
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Weinberger Mediation Center. There is no substitute for experience.
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