So, what are the next steps? Divorce mediators must bring background knowledge as well as intangible skills to the table.
When divorce mediation clients come in, they want to feel reassured that the mediator knows how to put together a blueprint for their marital settlement agreement. That means that divorce mediators must know how to address parenting, the equitable distribution of assets and debts, child support and spousal support (alimony). Mediators help clients craft a parenting schedule and address decision-making for their children on all areas of their children’s lives including school, health, activities, religion and college. In addition, divorce mediators help divorcing couples divide their assets from bank accounts to retirement accounts. They also guide them to reach an agreement about the home, the cars, credit cards, pets etc. Essentially, every aspect of their lives together. Finally, they work on the support part of the divorce agreement – how is the divorcing couple going to make sure that the children’s financial needs are met and that both spouses can maintain a standard of living similar to their marital lifestyle.
Aside from acquiring this knowledge base about divorce, the mediator needs to develop certain key skills, to guide the clients through the process of developing a fair, workable agreement. Specifically, the mediator needs to learn to listen to the clients to find out what each party is seeking. Good listening can be harder than it sounds, because divorcing couples are often emotional and not always thinking practically. A mediator also needs to be fair and neutral. It takes sincere effort to recognize your own biases and make sure that you are not favoring one client over the other or allowing one client to call the shots. Finally, the mediator needs to be a good explainer. It is important that couples leave the mediation process with a clear understanding of what they have agreed to and how to proceed.
When divorcing couples come to mediation, they are asking for help to plan for their future. Learning how to be a good mediator is not easy. But the rewards that come from helping clients move forward make the process worthwhile for both the clients and the mediators.
For more information about divorce mediation or Westfield Mediation, LLC’s coaching and mentorship program, please contact Randi M. Albert, JD, or Michelle Weinberg, M.Ed., Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, at Westfield Mediation, LLC at 908.913.0373. View our website at www.westfieldnjmediation.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.