How to Choose a Capable Divorce Mediator
If may sound hard to believe, but there are absolutely no legal requirements to become a divorce mediator in New York State. A manicurist needs a Nail Specialty License to enhance the appearance of your cuticles, but someone who is going to help you reach a marital settlement agreement — encompassing alimony, child custody, child support and your property — does not. In New York, you don’t need a license or degree to call yourself a divorce mediator. While the New York State Council on Divorce Mediation strives to uphold standards of practice, it is only a voluntary nonprofit with no enforcement power. So, if you’re searching online for a divorce mediator, how can you tell who is capable and who is not? At Solutions Divorce Mediation, Inc., we think you should ask these questions:
- Is the mediator knowledgeable? — Does the mediator know New York family law? A law degree is not mandatory for this, because many attorneys never study family law and many non-lawyers have taken courses which give them a basic understanding. However, your best guarantee that a mediator knows New York family law is if he or she has practiced family law in the state’s courts.
- How much experience does the mediator have? — How many mediations has the mediator successfully completed? It stands to reason that someone who has been practicing for a few years is going to be more capable than someone who recently graduated from a weekend workshop.
- Does the mediator draft a Proposed Judgment or leave that to a lawyer? — Some mediators write up a basic agreement and leave it to an attorney to draft the final language for the Proposed Judgment you present to the court. This can cause issues, because the meaning of the terms can change from one presentation to the other. But once the attorney has applied precise legal language, that is the understanding the court will approve and future judges will enforce. When the mediator drafts the Proposed Judgment personally, you know you’re getting the settlement you’ve agreed to.
- Do you like the mediator’s style? — Some mediators simply facilitate the process, whereas others exercise a bit more control over the outcome. Talk to the mediators you interview about how they see themselves. Talk about your priorities in mediation. Do you want to be heard? Have ownership over the final agreement? Avoid a lopsided agreement? Have your spouse commit fully to the terms once it’s settled? It’s important that the mediator’s style works for both of you.
Ultimately, you want your mediator to be someone you have confidence in, because you might be living with the outcome of your divorce mediation for a very long time. To learn more about mediating your divorce, call Solutions Divorce Mediation, Inc. at 1.631.683.8172 or contact our Long Island office online.