Selecting a Mediator PDF Print

Attorneys most often have mediators who they regularly work with on cases. If both parties have an attorney, then the attorneys will need to agree on the mediator to use. If the attorneys can’t agree, then the Court might suggest a few mediators, or the Court can order mediation with a specific mediator. If the Court orders to a specific mediator, then it must be a person selected from the list of Court-approved mediators in your county.

It is reasonable to ask questions of your attorney before a mediator selection is finalized. When the decision is made exclusively between attorneys, the parties may miss a chance to shape the mediation according to their priorities. Questions may include:

How does this mediator practice?

Two basic approaches to mediation practice can be characterized as “facilitative” and “directive.” In a facilitative model, the parties are usually in the same room, and attorneys may or may not be present. The mediator takes on a role of asking questions, seeking to clarify what the real issues are that need to be resolved. Usually people start out with their “positions” (“I want the house” or “I want custody”) this can lead to a stalemate if both parties want the same things. The mediator works with the parties to understand their real interests instead of their positions. For example, “I want custody” may really mean “I want to make sure that my child and I are able to spend plenty of time together.” Once each person’s interests are better understood, the mediator can help guide the discussion toward identifying solutions that accomplish what each party wants to accomplish.

In a more directive model of mediation, attorneys for both parties are almost always present. Often, the parties will be in separate rooms with their attorneys and the mediator will go back and forth, attempting to shape an agreement. Sometimes, the mediator will help to “direct” the parties toward an agreement by offering an opinion as to how the Court would rule on a particular issue.

Is this mediator on the list of court-approved mediators in our county?

Training and experience required to be on that list are detailed elsewhere on this website. Training and Experience for Mediators.  Many experienced and effective mediators are not on court-approved lists, and/or have not completed the requirements to be on the list. These mediators may still be very good choice for your case. However, generally, those who meet court-approval requirements practice mediation at any stage of a case, while those who have not taken the domestic relations mediation training often mediate only at the later stages of a case

What is the area of expertise of the mediator?

Many family mediators are attorneys, but there are also many who have a mental health background, such as a psychologist and social worker. Still others have a background specifically in conflict resolution or other fields. Although the mediator’s role is to be neutral, the mediator can provide information based on his or her area of expertise. As an example, cases where there are issues related to the children may benefit from the insight of a mediator with mental health expertise.

Does the mediator follow a set of ethical standards specific to mediation?

Professionals such as attorneys and mental health practitioners have standards for ethical practice of their profession, but not every mediator is aware of the specific set of standards that have been developed by a cooperative effort of national organizations to guide the practice of family mediation. The thirteen standards are detailed below. Two of the most important standards deal with the impartiality of the mediator, and the confidentiality of information disclosed in mediation. There are also standards that relate to making sure that participants in mediation have access to enough information to make informed decisions, to making sure that the best interests of children are taken into account, and to being able to recognize and address any signs of domestic abuse.

What are the logistics associated with this mediator?

This could include office location, office hours, fees, payment terms, etc.


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Family Mediation Council brochure

In the past FMC had printed out mediation brochures and sold them to our membership for distribution. Recently we decided to do an updated brochure in pdf format and disseminate to our membership so that our individual members could print it out on their color printers and distribute it to the various courts, organizations and clients of their choosing.
- Wally Winters, Current Chair

About Mediation

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a process used to help people reach agreements. In this process, a neutral, trained mediator works with people to discuss all of the issues related to their family conflict, to explore possible options for settlement, and to identify solutions that best meet the needs of each person involved.

When can Mediation be done?

Mediation can take place at any stage in a situation, and we believe that the earlier it is considered, the better. For...

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Attention All Prospective FMC Members: 

If you join by paying 2017 dues, you will be entitled to attend both our spring program on May 15, 2017 and our fall program on October 13, 2017 absolutely free of charge.  Don't miss this opportunity to obtain 6 hours total of advanced mediation training free!

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