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Qualifications for mediators in Massachusetts

What, exactly, are the qualifications for a divorce mediator in Massachusetts? My wife and I are both willing to try mediation for our divorce but she wants to use a person who isn't a lawyer. That doesn't sound like a good idea to me. Thanks.

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I do not know of any requirements set out in Massachusetts law for the practice of mediation. There are standards set out in Rule 8 of the MA Supreme Judicial Court Uniform Rules on Dispute Resolution, but those are only relevant to mediators who wish to work on matters referred by Massachusetts courts.  If I were selecting a mediator I would ask the candidates what training they have completed, whether they belong to any relevant organizations that might enhance there skills, such as the  Massachusetts Bar Association Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee, and--most importantly--how may medications they have performed.  I'm biased on the issue of whether your mediator should be an attorney, but I believe the answer is yes. 

I say that because, in my mind, one of the most important things a divorce mediator brings to the table is a rock-solid understanding of the rules of the game: how the courts function and how, typically, the courts will resolve disputes.  For example, if one party to the mediation is making unreasonable demands regarding alimony or spousal support, an attorney with experience in the divorce courts of Massachusetts can explain why the request is not reasonable.  Without realistic expectations by both parties, the mediation is likely to fail.  Good luck.

I agree with The Editor. While there are no qualifications for one to be a mediator, I believe it is essential that whomever you select to guide you through the mediation process has experience in divorce proceedings. As someone who has been involved in dozens of mediations, albeit with a federal judge as mediator, I cannot stress how vital it is that both parties respect the mediator, and by extension, respect the process. If mediation is looked upon as something to "try" before going to court, then it will surely fail. If mediation is approached forthright and with the expectation that it will succeed; then it usually does.

Whomever you select, whether one of the hundreds of local Massachusetts mediators, or someone referred to you by the FMCS (Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services), trust in the process and be willing to compromise. Mediators, even the best ones, will fail if the parties are unwilling to compromise.

Submitted Wed, 08/14/2013 - 12:45

What would I look for for qualifications for a divorce mediator:

Experience in divorce law- there are matters of custody, co-parenting, insurance, child support, assets and liability assignments, real estate, retirement, spousal support and many more areas.

Experience in mediation- Mediation is a process not an area of law. A mediator is able to help disputants identify issues, help them find common interests, help them produce options and help them choose the best solution alone or with help of trained professionals.

Does the mediator belong to MA Council Of Family Mediation. Is the person also a collaborative professional. Does the person have experience in financial issues?

Is the person able to prepare the court documents? an attorney?
Does the mediator belong to peer groups of mediators?
How many have they done? What are the likely costs and fees?

There are many mediators out there of varied price ranges and capabilities. Find the one that best suits your needs and budget.

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