Say you have already decided to get divorced, and you know you need to hire a mediator. How do you get started? How do you find the divorce mediator that is best for you?
At Westfield Mediation, LLC, we tell people to use the REACT five factor test to find the best fit for you: Reputation, Expertise, Approach, Cost , and Travel. If you can find a divorce mediator who meets your needs in each of these areas, you can begin on the right foot.
The first factor to consider is reputation. Ask friends, neighbors, co-workers to see if they have any recommendations. Get a few names if possible, and see if any name comes up more than once. Look up the divorce mediators on the web. Do they have any positive or negative reviews?
While you are searching the web, consider the meditator's expertise. Do they have experience in divorce mediation? Are they general mediators, or do they focus only on family issues? Are they general litigators, who do mediation or family law on the side or is this all they do? Do you want someone with a legal background? Would you prefer working with someone from the mental health field?
Once you narrow down your search, call a few divorce mediators to get a sense of their personalities and whether their approach will mesh well with yours. Do you want someone who is very business-like, or would you prefer someone who will discuss the emotional impact of your decisions? Is the mediator receptive to your questions? Do she call right back, or are you a lower priority for her? Divorce can be very difficult and you want a good relationship with the person who is helping you through the process.
While you are on the phone, ask them about their fees, and how much the divorce mediation process will cost in total. Make sure that you are comfortable with their payment requirements before you begin. It will be more expensive if you need to start and stop with different mediators because the costs are not what you expected.
Finally, consider their location. You will have to travel to their office several times — are they located near your work or home? Are they accommodating about scheduling?
While divorce can be hard, finding the right mediator doesn't have to be. Using the REACT five factor test — Reputation, Expertise, Approach, Cost and Travel, will help you take the right first step towards your divorce.