When you’re going through a divorce, it’s in your best interest to reach agreements with your spouse on important issues like child custody and property division – but if you can’t, your Stockton divorce lawyer will probably suggest that you work with a mediator.
A mediator can help you and your spouse reach fair agreements that you can both live with.
However, you can’t just assume that all mediators are the same – you’ll have to do some homework to find one that works in a style you’re comfortable with. That process starts when you begin calling local mediators (your attorney can refer you to one if you need a little push in the right direction) and asking questions.
Related: What is Divorce Mediation?
7 Questions to Ask a Divorce Mediator
Just like when you hire any other professional, you’ll have to ask the right questions to find out if you’ll be a good “fit” when you hire a mediator. Here are seven questions to ask:
- How would you describe your mediation style?
- Can I meet with you privately?
- Can my attorney come to our meetings?
- What happens if my spouse is disrespectful?
- What happens if my spouse is dishonest?
- How long will it take to complete mediation?
- How much will mediation cost?
Related: Divorce Mediation Checklist
#1. How would you describe your mediation style?
There are several mediation styles, so it’s important that you find a professional who uses the one – or the combination – you’re most comfortable with. Some mediators let you hash it out on your own without giving much input, while others prefer to guide you through each issue and make plenty of suggestions.
#2. Can I meet with you privately?
Some mediators will meet with each spouse privately a few times before bringing everyone together, some prefer to keep you both in the same room all the time, and some keep spouses separate the entire time. If you’re not comfortable being in the same room with your spouse, you’ll need a mediator who understands that and is willing to keep you separate.
#3. Can my attorney come to our meetings?
Many people who use mediators to negotiate a settlement also work with their own attorneys. Your mediator should be supportive of your relationship with your lawyer, and should also welcome your lawyer to come with you to the settlement conference.
You need to know how your mediator will handle the situation if your spouse becomes disrespectful – either of you and the mediator or of the mediation process in general. Most mediators require couples to sign written rules before beginning a conference that say they agree to the importance of mutual respect and promise to refrain from intimidating or threatening behaviors.
#5. What happens if my spouse is dishonest?
Many mediators include honesty as a clause in the initial agreement you’ll all sign before your settlement conference. If your spouse is dishonest about something, how will your mediator handle it? The answer to this question can be exceptionally important, especially if you already know your spouse has a tendency to be dishonest.
#6. How long will it take to complete mediation?
Everyone’s situation is different, but many mediations can be completed fairly quickly. In high-conflict divorces, mediation can take longer – but really, the timeframe should depend on how committed you and your spouse are to reaching resolutions your whole family can live with.
#7. How much will mediation cost?
Before you hire a mediator, find out how he or she bills and what your anticipated total cost will be. Every situation is different, and the longer your mediation takes, the more it’s likely to cost – but in the vast majority of cases, mediation is far more cost-effective than litigation.
Do You Need to Talk to a Divorce Lawyer About Mediation in Your Case?
If you’re thinking about divorce, or if your spouse has already filed, you probably want to talk to a Stockton divorce attorney as soon as you can. Call us at 209-546-6870 to schedule your consultation now.