Are you currently seeking a divorce but interested in exploring different methods to dissolve your marriage? Mediation is an increasingly more popular choice these days due to the cost efficiency, privacy, and ability to communicate directly. As we see an increase in divorce mediation, we also are experiencing a higher demand for divorce mediators.
Attorney Dawn Renken is a practicing family law attorney in Texas, that specializes in divorce cases in Houston, TX. Attorney Renken received her mediation license through ADR Services International Inc. in 2014. Since this time, she has worked with a wide range of divorcing couples looking for alternatives to traditional courtroom divorces. Mediation offers the opportunity to divorce without public court appearances or back and forth litigation. Mediation is a private method of divorce that allows both parties to work together to reach an amicable solution as a neutral third-party mediator works to ensure both parties are fairly represented in the final agreement.
Now that you have an idea of what to look for in a divorce mediator, here are some questions you can ask to help you decide whom to hire. Some online mediation services will assign you a mediator—if you’re using such a service, you can still ask these questions.
- What sort of training do you have? Many mediation courses involve at least 40 hours of training. But you’ll want to know more than whether the mediator has met the technical requirements to become a mediator. For instance, if the mediator doesn’t have specialized divorce training, it’s best to look elsewhere.
- Are you required to be certified as a mediator by our state’s courts? If so, are you? Court certification isn’t always needed for someone to mediate divorce cases, but it’s an indicator of expertise in the field.
- What types of cases do you mediate? A mediator who mediates cases in a number of areas of the law can still do a great job with your case, but you might be more comfortable with a mediator who specializes in divorce.
- How long have you been mediating divorce cases? How many have you handled? Don’t be shy about asking how many cases the mediator has handled. Nor should you hesitate to ask how the mediator defines success (more on this topic below) or how often they’ve been successful. That said, if you’re very comfortable with a mediator who’s properly trained, lack of experience needn’t be a deal breaker.
- In your opinion, what makes a divorce mediation successful? The mediator should give an answer that includes the preparation of a written settlement agreement. If not, you might want to continue your search for another mediator who will help you complete this key document.
- What are your fees? Some mediators charge by the hour. It’s not unusual for attorney-mediators to charge the same hourly rates that attorneys charge for non-mediation work. The hourly rates of mediators who are not attorneys are typically far lower than attorney-mediator rates. However, the hourly rate will probably depend on where you live. Some mediators—and many mediation services—charge by the session or offer a flat fee for the entire process. The good news is that you and your spouse will likely be sharing the cost, which is a lot cheaper than each of you paying your own attorney to do battle in court.
- What do your fees include? Mediators often charge more for “extras” like filing the paperwork, use of a process server, court fees, and additional sessions (if the parties don’t reach an agreement during the scheduled sessions).
7 Ways to Find a Divorce Mediator
Mediation is such a popular method of settling legal issues that there’s no shortage of qualified mediators. Here are some ways to find one.
- Personal recommendations. Of course, firsthand knowledge is always helpful. Recommendations from friends or family members who’ve been through divorce mediation are often the best referrals you can get.
- Your marriage counselor or therapist. If you’ve used the services of a marriage counselor or therapist, inquire about mediators they’ve worked with and trust.
- An online mediation service. If you know you want to mediate your divorce online, finding a mediator is as simple as pinning down a service provider. Most reputable online mediation services will assign your case to a qualified mediator who appears to be a good match based on your answers to a few straightforward questions.
- Your local courthouse. The clerk at your local courthouse might have a list of mediators who regularly work on court-ordered mediations—these mediators often have practices of their own and are willing to take on private clients.
- Your state courts’ administration office. The office that oversees all the courts in your state might maintain a list of approved mediators—check the state judiciary website to see if it’s provided there, or give the office a call.
- Your state or county bar association. The professional organization of lawyers (known as the “bar”) in your state or county might maintain a list of qualified mediators. (The mediators referred by the bar association will probably be lawyers.)
- National and state mediation organizations and directories. The Academy of Professional Family Mediators, the National Association of Community Mediation, and the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals are just a few of the many organizations where you can find mediators.
Divorce Mediator in Houston, Texas
Our team proudly serves the Greater Houston area, including but not limited to Brazos County, Cypress, Fort Bend County, Galveston, Houston Heights, Houston, Humble, Katy, Kingwood, Memorial Houston, Montgomery County, Montrose, Richmond, Rosenberg, Spring, The Woodlands. All marriages are different, making each divorce equally unique with its own set of needs that must be addressed. Contact our law office to explore your options moving forward, and find out how we can help you.