Saturday, April 5, 2008

Choosing a Divorce Mediation Service

Well trained, professional mediators are in high demand as divorce rates continue to soar. Thankfully, choosing a divorce mediation service is a relatively simple task during a rather difficult and emotional time, as even in the very best of circumstances, divorce is still an uncomfortable process at best.

The Role of the Divorce Mediator

The main role of a divorce mediator is to help a divorcing couple come to mutually agreed upon decisions regarding the dissolution of their marriage without the need for litigating in court with two separate attorneys and a judge making the ultimate ruling. Any mediator you choose should be well versed in the laws in your state as well as in the various legal documents that are required for the divorce process, and also have ample related experience.

What to Look For

Although it isn't a requirement that a divorce mediator first be an attorney by profession, many people feel that since divorce is undoubtedly a legal issue, a lawyer possesses the vast knowledge and experience needed to handle a myriad of cases as opposed to a counselor or other similar professional. Likewise, choosing a divorce mediation service is something that's also a matter of personal opinion. It's important for both parties to feel at ease during the mediation process, therefore a certain degree of chemistry and comfort should be present for the best results.

In addition to attorneys, social workers, counselors, psychologists, and marriage and family therapists may all be trained in mediation and duly qualified to successfully handle matters of divorce.

Questions to Ask

Divorce mediators actually expect to be asked several questions from potential clients, so don't ever be hesitant about finding out the answers to all of your concerns when choosing a divorce mediation service. Not only does it simply make sense to thoroughly research prospective mediators, just as you would with any other important service or company that you do business with, but it's also more than worth the time it takes due to the substantial savings from avoiding a lengthy court litigation.

Remember the following six questions if you need to utilize the services of a professional divorce mediator:

1. For how many years has the service been in business, and more specifically, how long has the prospective mediator in your case been mediating divorces? - Obviously, the longer a mediator has been handling divorce cases, the more experience they will have.

2. What is the mediator's level of training? - A mediator should have at least 40 hours of formal training at the minimum.

3. Are there references available? - Mediation is completely confidential, so speaking with past clients may not be possible, however, most mediators have references in the form of colleagues and other professionals who are able to vouch for them.

4. What is the mediator's general style? - Although mediation styles do vary, there is no one right or wrong method, but rather a matter of personal preference that generally depends on the situation.

5. What are the fees, and how will they expected to be paid? - Fees vary widely from one region to the next, some mediators charge a flat fee while others will expect payment for each separation session. Be sure to find out this important information in advance.

6. Does the service offer any informational materials? - Brochures, articles, and guidelines outlining relevant legal issues are helpful and also show that the mediators are well trained, well prepared, and interesting in informing and empowering their clients to get through their divorce as quickly and smoothly as possible.

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