Questions to Ask a Divorce Mediator

By Kristie Brown
Divorce mediation is a less-expensive alternative to hiring a lawyer.

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According to MSN Money, the average divorce costs from $15,000 to $30,000. If salvaging your marriage isn't an alternative, there are ways to save money in the divorce process. Filing for divorce yourself is the least expensive option, but if you and your spouse do not amicably agree on each point of separation, mediation is a less-expensive option to hiring attorneys. Mediation also sometimes allows relationships to heal. Before you visit a mediator, write down a list of questions to ask her, and take that list with you.

Experience

Divorce mediators hail from backgrounds that include law, psychology and social work. With an array of experience to choose from, find a mediator whose philosophy and training meet your needs. Ask about education and previous experience. If you are a relational person, you might be more interested in finding a mediator who is also relational. If you respond better to someone who has a straightforward personality, you might work better with someone who comes from a law or business background. Trust is an essential component in finding mediation representation. When your mediator offers advice, you need to know that she understands who you are and what is most important to you. Finally, pay attention to whether the mediator asks many questions of you -- she should ask a number of questions about you and what you need.

Practice

Ask the mediator if she practices full time or part time? Either approach is acceptable, but gauge how you feel if mediation is not her full-time job. In addition, does the mediator handle primarily divorces or does she also mediate business or other professional disputes, decreasing the time she can learn about complex family financial or parenting issues?

Success Rate

Ask the mediator about his rate of success. In other words, what is the percentage of cases he has settled successfully during mediation? Divorce mediations not negotiated successfully might need the intervention of a costly attorney or could ultimately be decided by a judge, who does not have a vested interest in settling the matter in your favor.

Cost

One of the most important questions is to find out what the mediator charges. The retainer required to take your case might be sufficient to cover the cost of the mediation process. However, if you sense that you have a complex case involving children or substantial assets, ask the mediator what she charges per hour. If a divorce mediator's fees are so high that you won't save any money by choosing her over an attorney, continue interviewing mediators until you find one who has a strong track record combined with fees that are more affordable.

About the Author

Kristie Brown is a publisher, writer and editor. She has contributed to magazines, textbooks and online publications. Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.

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