Finding a Mediator for Your Divorce
Finding a good divorce
mediator is an inexact science. Most mediators' listings in the Yellow
Pages will be either under Divorce Counseling or Mediation.
Generally, if you
ask a lawyer to recommend a mediator, he or she will tend to recommend
another lawyer. Experienced divorce lawyers will tend to recommend other
experienced divorce lawyers. That's just the way we humans are. If you
have friends who are marriage counselors, you may want to ask them for
Another good place
to look is the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR), which includes
the former Academy of Family Mediators (AFM). A mediator who is a Practitioner
Member of AFM:
Has completed at least
60 hours of family mediation training, including either a 30 hour or a
40 hour family mediation training course.
Has completed 20 hours of continuing training every two years.
Has completed two hours
of domestic violence awareness training.
Has completed at least
100 hours of face-to-face family mediation in at least 10 different cases.
This isn't a guarantee
that the mediator is competent and caring. And there are plenty of competent
and caring mediators who are not Practitioner Members of AFM. AFM is a
good place to start, though.
ACR has a
page where you can choose your state and see who the AFM Practitioner
Members are there. Click
here to go there now.
Here are some questions
you might ask of a mediator to get a feel for how they're likely to approach
the issues you and your spouse are facing:
How much do you charge
(this will usually be an hourly rate)? Are there any charges other than
for your time, like preparing a memorandum or that sort of thing?
Do you require a retainer?
(Lawyers who mediate often do; most other professionals do not.)
How many cases like
ours have you mediated in the past? (There's no reason you should insist
on experience with hundreds of cases, but if a mediator is inexperienced,
it might be appropriate for you to pay a lower hourly rate.)
of mediation do you use?
Will you be able to
help us resolve all the issues of our divorce, or are there issues you
would suggest we talk to others about? (Some mediators will refuse to deal
with tax issues, and some will refuse to deal with financial issues at
What would be a typical
time that we would spend in mediation? (Obviously, the mediator can't control
how long it takes you and your spouse, but you're entitled to some idea
of what to expect, assuming your case is typical.)
Assuming we are able
to reach agreement, what will happen then? (With some mediators, you will
sign a binding document in their office. With others, you will have a lawyer
prepare the documents for filing.)