How Do You Select the Best New York Divorce Mediator for You?
October 13, 2015
You’ve decided that it’s time to get divorced and you are considering mediation rather than the more acrimonious and expensive traditional divorce trial. Your soon-to-be-ex is on board and you are both determined to get through this process with your dignity in tact. However, you aren’t sure how to select a mediator; after all, anyone can call themselves a mediator.
If this sounds like you, rest assured, you aren’t alone. Divorce law is complicated in New York. It’s best to choose a mediator who can guide you through the process. The mediator you choose will play a huge role in keeping you both on track during negotiations. While it’s not the mediator’s role to offer any legal advice, choosing a divorce mediator with significant experience as a successful divorce attorney in New York State will be an advantage throughout the process.
Do your homework: Ask some questions such as how long has the mediator been practicing? Where did they get their training and do they stay up to date with new laws? In New York, however, in order to be a professional mediator you need the credentials and training that come from a 40+hour mediation course.
Tips for Choosing a Divorce Mediator
Understand the mediation process: As they say, knowledge is power. In order to be able to choose the right mediator for your situation, you need to understand how mediation works, including the benefits as well as the pitfalls.
Ask how much: Generally speaking, mediation may be a less expensive road to a final divorce decree. This is only true, however, if you are able to work with the mediator to negotiate issues expeditiously.
Personality matters: If you choose a mediator whose personality doesn’t mesh well with your style (you and your soon-to-be-ex are outspoken and assertive but the mediator is quiet and reserved — or the opposite) you will feel like the situation is out of control or that you are being bullied by a more aggressive mediator. There are many mediators out there, choose one that matches your style.
Experience counts most of all: Depending on the particular sticking points of your divorce, you should find out the mediator’s areas of expertise. If you are having trouble negotiating child custody and support, for example, select a mediator who has helped countless couples with these issues.
Will they give you names as references?This is a double edged sword; obviously mediation is confidential but you need to know what past clients think about the mediator’s services. Perhaps you can ask them to call you?
How do they manage conflict during mediation: This is an important issue and, as the client, you need to be comfortable with the answer to this question. You need to know that as congenial as things may be walking into the mediation session, conversation can quickly get heated. How will the mediator handle these uncomfortable situations?
Finally, ask the mediator you choose how they feel about attorneys joining the mediation session. Mediation is a great way of looking at an established alternative conflict resolution strategy. Jonathan Katz is a divorce lawyer who practices mediation; he welcomes each spouse to bring their divorce lawyer with them so all bases are covered and three legal minds are working together for the best outcome.
Contact New York family attorney Jonathan Katz for a consultation about your divorce and to learn more about mediation.