Family Mediation Center

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How To Choose a Mediator

By Allison Quattrocchi, Mediator (retired) and

Joy Borum,  Mediator

 
Arizona has no licensing or certification requirements for a mediator so anyone can call themselves one. How do you know you are getting a qualified mediator and what does that mean? There are credentials available through the Association for Conflict Resolution's Academy of Family Mediators and through the Academy of Professional Family Mediators. Membership in the Maricopa Co. Association of Family Mediators can also be an indication of commitment to the mediation profession and to ongoing education in the field.

When choosing a mediator, focus on what mediation training and life experience the individual has had, not on whether the mediator is a lawyer, counselor, or former judge. Don’t assume because someone is an attorney or has been practicing family law or has been a judge that they know how to mediate. Mediation skills are not the same as those required for practicing law or making decisions from the bench. These distinctions are sometimes not understood by legal practitioners or former judicial officers who decide to add mediatior to their resumes.

If you want your mediator to draft the court documents for you, you may prefer a mediator who is an attorney or is licensed as a Document Preparer. Most mediators provide a courtesy (free) 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 to choose the person with whom you feel the most comfortable and one who is the best fit for your situation. Fees generally can range from $150 to $400+ an hour. The higher rates usually reflect the most efficient, knowledgeable, and experienced mediators.

Some questions to ask:

  1. How long have you been doing mediation?
  2. What percentage of your practice is mediation? What types of mediation do you do? 
  3. What kind of training have you had that is related specifically to mediation? Have you been a trainer? An advanced trainer?
  4. How many mediations do you do a year?
  5. 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.)
  6. Can you do all of the paperwork and filing?
  7. Can attorneys be used in conjunction with the mediation?
  8. What is your policy on confidentiality?
  9. What is your policy on separate caucusing?
  10. Can we mediate entirely in separate rooms or on separate days?
  11. 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.)
  12. At the end of the interview, have you gotten a sense of the mediator’s style and the way he or she manages the process?