How to Choose a Mediator
Is mediation a good fit for your case? If and you and your spouse have agreed to mediate, the next step is choosing a mediator. Some types of mediation can be done through the court. For example, where parents are not in agreement on custody and timeshare for minor children, there are court mediators who will try to help the parents reach an agreement. Some counties offer mediation for property issues in certain cases, sometimes called “pots and pans” mediation. The court may also be able to offer referrals to other mediators, possibly including low-cost mediation services.
To find out what kind of mediation services your county offers, you can search for “[your county] superior court” and see what is available in the self-help section or in the family law section. You can also call your county courthouse and ask for information about mediation services. Many parties choose to use a private mediator because it offers more flexibility than a court appointed mediator. A private mediator will be able to cover all aspects of your settlement, from custody, to division of property, to retirement accounts, to pets. You will also have the ability choose the number of appointments you have and you will have more control over when those appointments are.
Another aspect to consider is the cost of private mediation. Private mediation will generally be more expensive than using court resources or low-cost referrals. The costs of private mediation vary for each case. Some cases can be settled very quickly, whereas others may take many appointments to reach an agreement. Another cost to consider is legal representation. The mediator is a neutral third party who does not represent either party. The mediator can give general advice as to the legality of proposals, but does not advocate for either party. Some parties prefer to retain a lawyer, who may or may not participate in the mediation, to advise them personally and help advocate for them.
Just like when you choose an attorney, it is important that both parties are comfortable with the mediator. You should each feel comfortable talking to the mediator and it’s crucial that you are open and honest regarding all of your personal information and concerns. You should also feel comfortable that the mediator is neutral. If one party feels the mediator is siding with the other party, it becomes very difficult to reach an agreement.
To learn more about mediation, contact a San Francisco divorce attorney at Romanovska Law.