What’s the Most Important Quality for a Divorce Mediator? Experience!
There are many sayings about experience. It is “the best teacher” because “nothing ever becomes real ‘til it is experienced,” and because “by seeking and blundering, we learn.” Now, those are fine sentiments for encouraging a young attorney not to quit the profession after losing a tough case. But it’s cold comfort for the client who lost because an attorney didn’t have sufficient experience to win.
The same can be said for divorce mediators. Everyone’s got to start somewhere, but why put a rookie in charge of your divorce? You need to decide substantial issues related to alimony, child support, child custody, and the division of your property. An inexperienced mediator is likely to slow down the process, causing frustration for the parties. The agreement that emerges may have mistakes your attorney catches — so you have to correct them — or errors you don’t discover until after the court has approved your settlement. At that point, unless you can show fraud or misrepresentation, you have to live with the results until you can petition the court for a modification.
By contrast, a mediator who has experience in the courtroom and the conference room brings several advantages to divorce mediation, by being able to:
- Facilitate the process — An experienced divorce mediator can get a pretty good idea of where your points of disagreement lie by reading your files and will be able to set goals for each mediation session. Having helped other couples reach agreement, an experienced mediator can suggest solutions that have worked for others and apply those basic principles to your specific circumstances.
- Instill confidence — When the mediator has confidence in the process, that confidence can be contagious. Because there are specific goals for each stage of the process, the parties have a sense of what they need to accomplish and know when they are making progress. By keeping frustration to a minimum, an experienced mediator gets the parties to buy in to the process, so they are fully engaged and invested in its success.
- Anticipate consequences of certain positions — Couples are often unaware of the pitfalls of certain settlement options. However, a mediator who has been in family court, helping divorced clients deal with elements of their parenting plan that aren’t working, has a long view on settlement issues.
- Catch mistakes that can be costly — A compromise on a property or support issue can seem entirely reasonable until the mediator points out the hardship to one party due to tax consequences.
With so much riding on your divorce settlement, you need the best guidance possible from your mediator and that requires knowledge that can only come from experience.
The author F. Scott Fitzgerald described experience as something so potentially painful that it was “not worth the getting.” But our mediators are established, capable, and successful. We take the pain out of the process, so your experience can be positive.
Solutions Divorce Mediation, Inc. has experienced divorce mediators with a broad background in divorce and family law. If you are planning to file for divorce, call us at 1.631.683.8172 or contact our Long Island office online.