What are the traits of a good mediator in a divorce? I have called two highly respected mediators from a list of three given to my wife by her lawyer. I envisioned a respectful, thoughtful process. What I have experienced so far is quite different.
I called the first lawyer on the list, a middle-aged woman whose sole practice is mediation. I was put off right out of the gate by her office staff who immediately told me her hourly rate in order to make sure I could afford it. When the lawyer called me back to discuss the mediation process she was clipped, hard-edged, again quoted her hourly rate, suggested that an introductory meeting to talk about ‘process’ would be a waste of her time and mine and suggested a few minutes phone call. I was very turned off. I had envisioned something gentler and kinder.
The second lawyer’s office I called told me that they could not speak to me or my wife, because we had already retained legal counsel. One of our lawyers needed to call to set up and approve the meeting. I emailed my lawyer to approve our meeting with this other lawyer, which he did. I am sure I will get a bill from my lawyer for his call to the mediator just to allow me to speak to the mediation attorney. Really?
I already feel out of my element. Yes, I have an MBA. Yes, I took lots of law classes in graduate school and have a good understanding of the law. But divorce law is different and unlike anything I have ever been through before. Divorce laws are arcane state by state regulations. I feel overwhelmed and over my head in the process. I am furiously reading a book about divorce to get up to speed, something I should have done a long time ago.
There is a mediation firm I spoke to a few months back which I had found online. They were very respectful to me on the phone and answered all my questions. The lawyer in this firm suggests a two-hour meeting to kick off the processes and determine if they are a good fit for my wife and me. This firm was respectful and thoughtful. Even though neither my wife’s nor my lawyer suggested this firm, they just got back on the list.