Mediation is a dispute resolution process in which you talk with a neutral third party (the mediator) to try to find solutions for your family or business dispute. It can be court-ordered, or you can choose to go to mediation on your own. The purpose of mediation is to work out a solution that is mutually acceptable. You will not be forced to agree to anything that you do not want to accept, and the mediator is not allowed to decide who is right or wrong.
Some mediators specialize in particular types of cases, such as divorce. Others are generalists and may handle civil, business, or family disputes. If you know what your case or dispute is about, you can focus on finding a mediator who specializes in that area.
In a divorce, the most important issue is often money and finances, including child support, property division (referred to as equitable distribution in some states), and alimony or spousal support. For that reason, it is best to choose a mediator who has a strong financial background.
Another thing to consider is whether the mediator you are considering mediates full time or part-time. If the mediator only mediates a few times each year, it may be difficult for him or her to stay current on the latest laws, guidelines, and approaches that may affect your specific case.
If you are unsure how to choose a mediator, ask for recommendations or referrals from those who have used mediation for divorce. You can also search the internet for “mediators near me” or use a mediation directory website to find qualified mediators who are members of your local community.
Some non-attorney mediators have experience in a variety of other fields, such as finance or teaching. For example, a retired teacher might have years of experience helping students work through interpersonal conflicts, and this skill can be useful in a divorce when children are involved.
In addition, many non-attorney mediators offer low rates or provide their services on a sliding scale. This option is especially beneficial if you are unable to afford the normal hourly rates of most private mediators.
Lastly, think about what you hope to achieve from mediation. Do you want to solve the entire problem at once, or are you just looking for a way out of a difficult situation?
Once you have done some initial research and found mediators who are skilled in your area of conflict, you can narrow down the options by using the search tool on the website of the mediation association in your area. The search tool allows you to select a type of conflict, a mediator name, and how wide a radius you would like the search to cover (in miles). You can also select the two-letter abbreviation for your state or province if searching in the United States. You can even combine criteria to limit your options further. For example, you can enter a last name and a zip code to find mediators within a certain distance of your home.