Arizona has no licensing or certification requirements for a divorce mediator so anyone can call themselves one. How do you know you are getting a qualified divorce mediator and what does that mean? The only credential that is available is that of a Practitioner or Advanced Practitioner member in the Association for Conflict Resolution. Membership in the Maricopa County Association of Family Mediators is also an indication of commitment to the mediation profession and ongoing education in the field.
When choosing a mediator, focus on what mediation training the individual has had, not on whether the mediator is a lawyer, counselor, or former judge. Donít assume because someone is an attorney or has been practicing family law that they know how to mediate. Mediation skills are not the same as those required for practicing law and the distinction is often not understood by legal practitioners who decide to add mediation to their professional practices.
If you want your mediator to draft the legal documents for you, you may prefer a mediator who is an attorney or is licensed as a Document Preparer. Most mediators provide a courtesy session to explain their process to you. Mediator styles and the types of process offered may vary so you may want to interview a few mediators so you can choose the person with whom you feel the most comfortable and who is the best fit for your situation. Fees generally can range from $150 to $450 an hour. The higher rates usually reflect the most efficient, knowledgeable, and experienced mediators.
Some questions to ask:
- How long have you been doing divorce mediation?
- What percentage of your practice is divorce mediation?
- What kind of training have you had that is related specifically to divorce mediation? Have you been a trainer?
- How many divorce mediations do you do a year?
- How many of your clients complete their agreements in mediation?
(Completion of the agreement is not the sole measure of a successful mediation and the mediator should make that distinction for you.)
- Can you do all of the paperwork and filing?
- Can attorneys be used in conjunction with the mediation?
- What is your policy on confidentiality?
- What is your policy on separate caucusing?
- Will you tell us what the law is? (A good mediator will make a distinction between legal advice, which by definition is not neutral, and legal information.)
- At the end of the interview, have you gotten a sense of the mediatorís style and the way he or she manages the process?