An effective mediator wears many hats. One of the hats is that of an educator. If you have an attorney-mediator, they can educate you about divorce law. It’s very important that you understand family law so that you can make informed decisions in divorce mediation that are in line with the law, that you know you’re going to get a fair agreement and one that a court would sanction, and that you can have a settlement agreement that the court will accept. Another thing a mediator needs to be an educator about is conflict deflection. Obviously, when you get into a divorce situation, conflict, sadness, and problems have arisen.
Another attribute that’s very important is that your mediator knows how to deal with you emotionally. It’s very helpful that you have a mediator who has the psychological background and who has had that training, so that when you have those moments when there’s a lot of pain, that person will be not only sympathetic and empathetic but also empower you, so that both parties feel that they’re getting a fair resolution and feel understood and legitimized.
And finally, you need someone who really has experience, because if they don’t have experience, they’re not going to know how to get you through this process. You need someone to guide you to the safe harbor of a resolution that’s fair to both of you, so that both of you feel good about yourselves and you can go on with your lives in a very positive manner and co-parent if you need to, and still be friends as you move on with your lives.
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.