You are getting a divorce. You’ve done the research and made the smart choice to use divorce mediation to untangle your marriage.
But there are so many divorce mediators. How do you choose the right mediator?
I founded Mediation Northwest in 2000 and have been helping couples through divorce mediation as an attorney-mediator here in Oregon ever since. Read on to hear what I suggest as the steps to take to find the right divorce mediator for you.
1. Make sure your professional is a divorce-specific professional.
All attorneys are not qualified to handle a divorce, and all mediators are not qualified to handle a divorce. You do not want to hire a professional who dabbles in divorce. You want a full-time divorce professional.
2. Hire a divorce attorney-mediator.
Why? A divorce attorney-mediator is MUCH more likely to have the knowledge of divorce law that you may need for your situation. The problem with non-attorney divorce mediators is that they don’t know what they don’t know.
Meaning, if they don’t know the law on capital gains, then they don’t know that it may apply to your situation. Not knowing that likely will cost you tens of thousands of dollars! Of course, this can happen with an unskilled attorney, too, but it is far less likely.
You don’t hire an electrician to handle your plumbing; you hire a plumber. If you wouldn’t hire an attorney to provide you couples counseling, why would you hire a therapist-mediator to handle your divorce? This is the single most important decision you will make in selecting your divorce mediator.
3. Select a divorce attorney-mediator who is actually, and truly, a mediator.
Divorce litigation attorneys love to think they can mediate a divorce because they have been litigating divorces for twenty years.
But litigators are trained to advocate for one client, handle one client’s emotions, and navigate one client to the finish line.
Litigators lack the skill-set to stay neutral because they have trained their entire professional life NOT to be neutral. They can’t switch off their advocacy brain and automatically become neutral.
Now, add-on the additional complexity of handling two clients’ diverging emotions and complicated needs at the same time. A good divorce attorney-mediator needs to be trained and skilled in neutrality while also able to handle two individuals who likely have conflicting emotions, needs, and ideas on how to settle the divorce.
Honestly, I routinely hear horror stories from clients seeking to hire me whose mediations have failed in another attorney-mediator’s office after spending 20K! They tell me that the attorney didn’t have the skill-set to handle two people’s emotions and conflicting needs. They tell me the other attorney wasn’t neutral.
When I ask the name of the attorney, it is always one of many divorce litigators who market themselves as an attorney-mediator. In truth, they litigate 85% of the cases in their office and mediate 10% — and 50% of those 10% fail!
The lesson is that you need to hire a divorce attorney-mediator who has taken the time to learn to be a mediator. I have taken several hundred hours of mediation-specific training (and, frankly, that was within the first three years of my practice). For over fifteen years, I have been teaching attorneys how to mediate divorces.
A forty-hour mediation training doesn’t qualify an attorney to mediate a divorce (in my humble opinion).
4. Choose a divorce attorney-mediator who charges fixed fees.
No one saves up for their divorce. Most clients are either putting the cost of the divorce on their credit card, using the vacation fund, or asking their parents to pay for it. The expense of a divorce needs to be managed.
Can you manage a fee from an attorney-mediator who charges by the hour and will charge you for every telephone call and email from your soon-to-be spouse?
No, you probably can’t.
But if you hire a divorce mediator who charges a fixed fee, you can sleep easy knowing your divorce fees are capped and you will not be the “friend” in someone’s story whose divorce cost them $25,000 — EACH.
Schedule a consultation with an Oregon divorce attorney-mediator today
I am a full-time divorce attorney-mediator. It’s all I do. I don’t litigate and mediate on the side. I don’t even mediate and then litigate on the side. I am a full-time, neutral, divorce attorney-mediator (that’s a mouthful!).
I designed Mediation Northwest to be a boutique divorce mediation firm. We handle our clients’ matters from beginning to end and we do it with fidelity and grace. Our clients never see the courthouse, their divorce is handled in a timely manner, and they know exactly how much their divorce will cost.
If you need some advice, I would love to talk to you. Contact our team at Mediation Northwest to schedule a consultation with me.