Many couples going through a divorce, separation, or other family law matter hire a professional mediator. A mediator can help a couple come to a voluntary agreement about issues such as division of property and child custody. However, mediators are not qualified to give legal advice, so divorcing couples often work with a mediator and a lawyer to help the process go as smoothly and amicably as possible.
Here are five things to look for when hiring a professional mediator for your divorce or family law proceeding:
- Experience. You need to find a mediator with experience in family law. This means that he or she has had extensive training and practice in this area. A mediator who specializes in family law should be able to help you resolve issues such as child custody, spousal support, and property division. He or she should also be able to help you negotiate a settlement if you and your spouse cannot agree.
- Reputation. It’s also important to look at the reputation of the mediator. Ask friends and colleagues who have used a mediator before. Check online reviews and ask for references. In Texas, you can learn more about mediation and find local mediators on the Texas Association of Mediators website.
- Availability. If you need an immediate response, you should choose a mediator who has availability 24/7. You might not think that you will need a mediator right away, but unexpected issues can arise during the process. If you do not require an immediate response, it is still important to consider the mediator’s availability. For example, can they meet with you on evenings or weekends?
- Fees. When hiring a mediator, it is important to consider your budget. There are two main ways to pay for mediation services: hourly fees and flat fee. Hourly fees are paid by the hour, while flat fees are set at one price regardless of how much work needs to be done. Flat fees are usually lower than hourly fees, so they are often preferred. However, hourly fees can be cheaper when you only need a few sessions.
- References. You should ask potential mediators for references. These will give you an idea of what kind of service they provide and what they are like to work with. If possible, contact the references directly to see if they would recommend the mediator.
This blog does not constitute legal advice. For information about getting legal advice or representation related to a divorce or family law matter, contact Sandoval Family Law today.