A successful divorce mediator wears many hats in the divorce process. Following are some of the more fundamental and important responsibilities.
Ascertain if Participants Have the Capacity to Negotiate
The divorce mediator needs be alert to the capacity and willingness of the participants to mediate before proceeding with mediation. A mediator should not agree to conduct the mediation if they reasonably believe either spouse is unable or unwilling to participate. Sometimes spouses are unwilling to participate and collaborate and have other hidden agendas. They may intend to delay the process or prolong the negotiation for various reasons. A trained mediator can ascertain if this is the case and must stop the mediation process.
The participants in meditations should have knowledge of the finances and an understanding of the assets and financial responsibilities. No one can negotiate in good faith without a full understanding of the financial implications. The mediator can and should ask that both parties to the mediation process are financially responsible for the cost of the mediation process and hold the parties responsible for fees.
Generate Options and Reach Agreements
If emotions run high during the mediation process, the mediator might split the two sides into separate rooms for private meetings, or caucuses. The mediator can lead the negotiation with all parties in the same room, or she can engage in “shuttle diplomacy,” moving back and forth between the spouses, gathering ideas, proposals, and counter proposals. Often, but not always, the mediator tells each side that the information they share in caucus will remain confidential. The promise of confidentiality can encourage disputants to share new information about their interests and concerns.
Depending on the complexity of the issues, mediation might last mere hours, or it could take days, weeks, or months to resolve. Some resolutions will truly be “win-win”; other will be just barely acceptable to one or both sides—but better than the prospect of a continued fight or court battle. If the parties come to consensus in the mediation process, the mediator will outline the terms and may write up a draft agreement. If you fail to reach agreement, the mediator will sum up where you have left off and may engage you in a discussion of your non-settlement alternatives.
Satisfy the Expectations of the Spouses
Family mediators should not accept a dispute for mediation if they cannot satisfy the expectations of the participants concerning the timing of the process. The mediator must ascertain if he or she can satisfy the client’s expectations in resolving the particular dispute. The mediator should not take any case for mediation outside of his or her area of expertise or if can not satisfy the timing and needs of the clients.