If you wish to have a fair, trusting, private and safe process in which you are apprised of your rights and obligations, you have the opportunity to speak your concerns, you receive all the information and documents you need to make good informed legal decisions, you feel that your feelings are legitimized, and you feel comfortable that your financial, emotional, and privacy needs are satisfied, you may wish to ask the following questions when choosing a divorce mediation professional:
- Does the mediator have extensive experience and training?
- Does the mediator have family law background to provide you the legal education that you must have to make critical decisions about your life?
- What is the reputation of the mediator? Are there referrals from trusted persons and entities?
- Does the mediator have training in psychology so that he/she can effectively understand the underlying issues and deflect the conflict?
- Will the mediator give you and your spouse a free consultation by phone to answer your questions about the process before you begin to give you a chance to see if the professional is a good match for you both?
- Does the mediator provide you a roadmap of the steps of the process so that you will be guided to resolution in a secure yet fully informed manner?
- Is the mediator a good listener? Are you comfortable speaking your concerns and revealing important issues to this person? Do you trust that this person will be evenhanded with both parties and respect your privacy?
- Has the mediator made it clear about confidentiality, disclosures, fiduciary duty, and ground rules? Is the mediator organized? Will you both receive written follow up summaries with tasks to perform for meetings, and will you have an agenda for each meeting so you are prepared and don¹t waste time and money?
- Will you have the opportunity to bring up any issue that is bothering you to add to the agendas? Will you feel safe in meetings knowing that the mediator is gentle yet powerful and will not allow verbal (nor physical) attacks or hurtful approaches?
- If an emergency arises between you and your spouse at any time, can you count on the mediator to intervene at your request and set up a conference call to immediately help resolve the critical issue and reduce the conflict?
- Are you assured that you will jointly be apprised of all issues that affect you and your dissolution and have the opportunity to review anything you wish at any time with the counsel of your choice?
- Is your mediator an expert facilitator and negotiator who can empower you both to problem-solve solutions that meet both of your needs within the realm of California divorce law?
If you answer yes to these questions above, you have probably made a good selection for a mediator and will build a trusting relationship that will help you successfully arrive at a mutually satisfying Marital Settlement.
Mari Frank is a divorce attorney-mediator in Laguna Niguel, CA (Orange County). She has been featured on numerous national television shows including 48 Hours, Dateline, NBC Nightly News, and The O’Reilly Factor and in newspapers across the nation including the L.A. Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.