Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Enough About Good Divorce Lawyers- Where are the Good Mediators?

There are about ten zillion articles and posts on how to hire a good divorce lawyer.  Zzzzzzzzzzz.  Are they telling you anything you don't know?  No. Are they helpful?  Many of them are, if you actually follow them.  Of course, most people hire someone who acts like they do, or acts they way they think a divorce lawyer should act. Or they hire the lawyer who represented their friend, family member or someone who was in the news.

In my travels on the Internet, I've seen a lot fewer posts on how to hire a good mediator. Caveat: I don't really like the mediation model.  I don't think it works for most people, and I have yet to meet a mediator I think has done a first-rate job, although I know they're out there.  (The AAML has a mediation group, so I'd look there, first and foremost, for the training, the skills and the knowledge base.)

I read a frustrated comment on Huff Post Divorce on this topic (in response to this post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/beth-jones/how-to-hire-the-wrong-div_b_778906.html), to which I made the following brief reply:

"The role of divorce mediators is to find a meeting point, or common ground, to resolve differences (not to bring people together for the purpose of reconciliation, although that can happen when a couple sees that they CAN indeed work things out).

I think you need look for a few things when looking for a good mediator. First, you should feel financially comfortable - if the mediator demands money first, before even seeing you, I'd say, thanks but no thanks. Second, I'd suggest staying clear of mental health pros who work as mediators - you don't want a therapist, you want someone who knows the law, the court system, and the ins and outs of the local legal scene. Last, you need someone who can pass the proverbial 'smell test- you want a mediator who is a smart, honest, strong, forthright, experienced agenda-free professional. A good mediator isn't going to take sides, drag out the mediation, allow one side to abuse the mediation process, or be incapable of drafting your separation agreement.”


  1. Great article, Terri. And I like that it differentiates from usual "divorce lawyer" discourse. This definitely adds to the conversation and could be very useful to people who are actually going through divorce. You should try to submit something on this topic to HuffPost.

  2. Thanks, Jeannie. (Don't know who to contact at HPd...)