Shopping For A Mediator

The A to Z of Shopping for a Mediator

To find a true craftsperson in any field is difficult, but in a complex field like mediation it is even harder. The following checklist is intended to assist you in this process. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of prospective mediators. You will have to live with the decisions that evolve out of your mediation sessions.




a. Do the mediator’s skills and experience match your families’ mediation needs, i.e. custody only, financial only, comprehensive, etc.?

b. How many years of direct experience does the mediator have in the type of mediation you need?

c. How many mediations has the mediator completed successfully? Unsuccessfully? How did the latter happen?

d. How long has the mediator been practicing full-time or part time mediation?

e. What percentage of the mediator’s work-week is spent doing mediation? Most lawyers spend 80-90% of their week on legal matters, even when they present themselves as “mediators”.

f. If the mediator is a lawyer, how did he/she obtain the skill and experience necessary for working with children and families and with complex financial issues?

g. If the mediator is not an accountant, how did he/she obtain the skill and experience necessary to deal with financial and property issues?

h. What are the mediator’s biases? If he/she claims to have none – beware!

i. How does the mediator handle allegations of physical, sexual and other abuse?

j. How and when does the mediator interface with his/her clients’ lawyers? How and when does the mediator expect the clients to interface with their own lawyers?

k. Can family members meet with the mediator separately as well as together?

l. Does the mediator use arbitration if mediation fails?

m. Does the mediator use open mediation, closed mediation or both? Does the family have a choice?

n. Does the mediator prepare a report with recommendations if mediation fails?

o. Who does the mediator use for collateral referral for psychiatry, pension valuations, house appraisals, etc.? Why these particular people?

p. Can the mediator do counseling interventions, if necessary, to keep the mediation progressing?

q. Does the mediator involve children in the mediation process? At what age? Does the mediator believe that children under 7 years know what is best for themselves?

r. How does the mediator know, confirm, verify, etc. that the financial data being provided by the client is accurate?

s. Under what conditions would the mediator end a mediation session prematurely?

t. Under what conditions would the mediator terminate mediation?

u. How does the mediator handle religious issues? Cultural preferences? Christmas morning for the children? Similar sensitive issues?

v. How does the mediator handle difficult issues such as one parent moving the child far from the other parent?

w. How does the mediator handle moral and ethical issuse such as young children seeing their parents with new mates?

x. Is the mediator a mediator in his/her own personal life-style, or only professionally “at the office?”

y. Ask the mediator for references from former clients and from other professionals.

z. If the mediator’s fee is $150/hour or more (Get this information over the phone. Avoid “to be discussed” ads.). Ask him/her why the fee is so high, since throughout Canada top-notch mediators are charging less than $150/hour.

I wish you well in your shopping, and I hope your separation and/or divorce is as “painless” as is possible. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance to you.