How to Choose a Mediator

Choosing the right mediator for you

“Amy, I know you aren’t ready for this, and I hate to be the bad guy. But, I can’t keep this up. I think we need to divorce. I don’t want to hurt you and I really don’t want a battle. My friend recommended mediation. I’m not sure what that is or how we even choose a mediator, but he thought it was a great way to go. Would you consider that?”

Fortunately, more people are choosing mediation than ever before. Others are interested but aren’t sure where to begin. If you are considering mediation, read on to find the right mediator for you.

Choose your mediator’s style—

Do you want a mediator who:

Helps transform your relationship? Choose  a transformative mediator.

Transformative mediators focus on helping participants better understand the other person (or people), the relationship dynamics, and the factors for healthier interactions moving forward.

Transformative mediation works well for couples seeking to repair marital issues (in conjunction with or as an alternative to counseling), extended family disputes, neighborhood disputes, and businesses seeking guidance on creating a more cooperative work culture. Some divorcing couples choose this style when their focus is on crafting a healthy post-divorce relationship.

Governed by the needs of the clients, the process is fluid and largely designed by the clients themselves. The mediator offers insights on skills to improve relationships, but their major role is to create the space and time for the clients to work together. The clients formulate options and craft a path for relating more effectively.

The goal of transformative mediation is a better relationship between clients.

Helps you resolve the issues between you in a private, protected, productive way? Choose a facilitative mediator.

Facilitative mediators offer a more defined approach than transformative mediators—one focused on equipping participants to find solutions to their disputes.

Facilitative mediation works well for divorcing couples, unmarried couples who share children and are parting ways, disputes between partners in a small business, and other legal disputes where clients desire to maintain a relationship.

Facilitative mediators educate clients about the issues in dispute as well as the options for resolving the issues. The mediator details the costs and benefits of each option so that clients make informed decisions. The mediator then guides the clients to choose solutions that meet the highest priorities of both.

While the mediator informs clients of the issues, options, and even legal context of the dispute—the clients’ perspectives and priorities drive the process. More, clients hold all the  decision-making power.

The goal of facilitative mediation is a mutually beneficial resolution of disputes for all involved.

Tells you what to do? Choose an evaluative mediator.

Evaluative mediators detail the strengths and weaknesses of each participant’s positions and suggest resolutions to the conflict.

Evaluative mediation works well for clients who refuse to work together and want to avoid a protracted court battle.

Rather than focusing on what each client desires, the mediator focuses on the most likely outcomes in court. Rather than clients driving the process, the mediator largely controls what is discussed, which factors are considered, and the factors for assessing proposals. The mediator primarily consults with and takes proposals from each client’s attorney to the other client’s attorney in a “shuttle” fashion until decisions are reached or clients decide to stop mediation.

The goal of an evaluative mediation is to settle disputes to avoid further court litigation.

The best mediators combine skills from all three styles of mediation, but most focus primarily on one of these approaches.

At Resolution Mediation, we primarily focus on facilitative mediation. We educate and equip clients to resolve disputes according to their own priorities and values.

Choose cost carefully—

No one budgets for a divorce, so cost matters. But, comparison of fees must include comparison of what the mediator will do. When calling around to ask about fees, also ask “Does that include. . .

  • Preparation for mediation—ask if preparation includes:
    • Advance communication with each party,
    • Review of financial records,
    • Preparation of clients to understand and participate in mediation,
    • For clients who have attorneys, reading attorney statements of the case.
  • Preparation of budgets—does financial preparation include:
    • Gathering of financial information on assets, properties, liabilities, and future needs,
    • Documentation of the financial information,
    • Options for tracking down information that parties cannot find or do not disclose,
    • Preparation of spreadsheets to compare different proposals,
    • Preparation of spreadsheets to clarify the impact of proposals on lifestyle post-divorce.
  • Writing of agreements—will the mediator
    • Draft the Settlement Agreement? If not, who will?
    • Draft other needed documents—such as motions, proposed orders, etc.?
  • Does the fee presume attorney involvementwhen attorneys are involved, clients must add the costs of each attorney to the stated mediator fee to accurately compare the costs of different mediation processes.

At Resolution Mediation we work with some clients represented by attorneys but largely with clients who do not have attorneys.

In our process we:

  • Hold advance conversations with clients to ensure we understand their individual hopes, priorities, concerns, and desires,
  • Prepare our clients for mediation—ensuring each understands all the factors of each issue and can confidently discuss and come to agreement,
  • Review all financial documents to understand the couple’s assets, liabilities, potential issues, and possible resolutions,
  • Educate clients about the various parenting plan options, how developmental stages of children impact parenting from two homes, and different options for financially supporting children. We also offer Child Inclusive Mediation—a process that (in a secure, low-key manner) utilizes the skills of a trained Child Consultant to discover and bring children’s perspectives into the parents’ decision-making,
  • Educate parties on the factors they need to understand to make well-informed decisions—both the immediate impact of agreements being entered (what each party is gaining and giving up) and the impact on their future,
  • Equip clients to make decisions,
  • Guide clients to come to agreement on all issues,
  • Prepare and file documents needed to complete the process so that couples never have to go to court.

For most clients, the cost of our entire process is less than the average retainer for two attorneys. More, less than 5% of our clients return to court—making the savings last.

If you would like more information on mediation in general or our practice specifically, email or call 317-793-0825. We look forward to serving you.

Have a question?

Let's begin with a conversation.

People going through divorce often feel like they are stepping off a cliff. They are keenly aware they don’t know what they don’t know. We offer answers in a process that protects people, preserves assets, and provides a way forward. 

Call 317-793-0825 or contact us here.