Is Your Divorce Mediator Maintaining Professional Competence?

We have talked a lot on our Washington mediation blog about what mediators do and how they should act during your divorce mediation sessions. However, we have not yet written about what family and divorce mediators should do to maintain their professional competence outside of their mediation sessions. According to the thirteenth model standard of practice for family and divorce mediation, divorce mediators should do the following three things: 

  1. Continuously improve their mediation skills. This could include continuing their education through courses, self-study, and self-assessment. Continuing education may include learning the newest mediation techniques and standards, as well as taking a closer look at your own mediation sessions and their outcome. 
  2. Participate in programs of peer counseling. These programs may include having an experienced mediator as a mentor, as well as mentoring a less experienced mediator. It may also include conferences or meetings involving mediators and the mediation field. 
  3. Keep in mind the issues of culture and diversity in mediation. We are still learning about the impact of cultural issues and diversity issues on divorce and family mediation. Mediators should be aware of these issues, as well as what the field is learning about these issues as a whole over time. 

More Divorcing Couples Turning To Mediation During Recession

Recently we shared some not-so-surprising statistics with you: in the last three years, as a large majority of the country struggled with job loss, housing troubles, and a poor economy, fewer and fewer couples have decided to file for divorce. Unfortunately, the reason isn’t that tough financial times brings us together, it is that divorces can be costly for both parties.

However, though fewer couples are deciding to end their marriages because of the financial implications, more couples are turning to divorce mediation as a way to save money while still having the option to sever ties and move on with their lives. In fact, some mediators are reporting significant increases in divorce mediation cases even as the divorce rates dip by double-digits in many states.

According to mediators, divorce mediation can save both time and money – but only if both parties are willing to communicate, compromise, and listen to each other. By working together, couples not only have an opportunity to establish their new, non-romantic relationship with each other, but they can also get the divorce that they both want without shelling out extra money for a complicated court case.

Mediators also say that, especially during tough economic times, the privacy that comes with divorce mediation can help keep their money matters private. Settling matters with a mediator can prevent a public fight for property and assets – or a public fight regarding debts.

As always, mediators stress that divorce mediation can be a blessing to many, but not for all. If your marriage involves domestic abuse, violence, addiction, or mental health issues, it is best not to choose this option. In addition, mediation is extremely difficult or impossible if one or both parties are unable or unwilling to work toward a resolution.

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Four Types of Mediation Caucusing 

Not all divorce mediations involve caucusing—and not all divorce mediators handle caucusing in the same way. In fact, during your mediation sessions, you may encounter one or more different types of caucusing. Here are four common types of caucusing, as well as how and why they are used by mediators: 

  1. Pre-caucusing. Although not common, some mediators like to meet separately with both parties before joint mediation begins. In some cases, these caucuses take place on separate days from each other and from the first joint meeting. These caucuses serve to give the mediator a balanced and in-depth idea of the wishes and needs of both parties before speaking with everyone as a group. 
  2. Shuttle caucusing. This is the most extreme form of caucusing, in which a mediator shuttles constantly between rooms in a series of separate caucuses, delivering messages and counter offers. This type of caucusing may be best in high-conflict divorce cases where emotions run high or in cases with a possible history of domestic violence. 
  3. Party-requested caucusing. During a mediation session, one of the parties may need to request a caucus with the mediator. These sessions could take place for a number of reasons: the party may need time to vent, the party may need to share confidential information with the mediator, or the party may need information or advice from the mediator regarding a settlement. 
  4. Mediator-requested caucusing. A mediator may also call a caucus, for a variety of reasons. In some cases, a mediator may simply wish to pause the conversation because emotions are running too high. In other cases, a mediator may wish to collect confidential information that may lead to a compromise or deal. 

Be sure to ask your mediator about his or her caucusing policies before your mediation sessions begins, as well as what these caucuses (or lack of caucuses) are meant to accomplish. 

At the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny, our attorneys assist families in the process of divorce through mediation, as well as child custody and child support mediations. With an experienced and knowledgeable Bellevue divorce lawyer at your side, you can be sure that you are navigating the mediation process correctly and that you get the settlement you need and deserve. To speak with one of our attorneys, call today to schedule an appointment: 425-460-0550.

Molly B. Kenny
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Founder and Principal Divorce Attorney
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Molly B. Kenny's Bellevue family law office is conveniently located on Lake Bellevue Drive, making it easily accessible to those in the greater Seattle area. Our divorce and child custody lawyers help men and women get the information, guidance, and compassionate representation they need.
Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny