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What should I look for in a family law mediator?

The courts of California allow parties to achieve divorces in a number of ways. Parties may pursue traditional divorces through litigation in the court system. They may also engage in collaborative divorce in which each party has a lawyer and the soon-to-be ex-spouses work together to resolve the details of their divorce. Divorcing couples may also seek an even more amicable way to settle their divorce issues, and that is through mediation.

In mediation, the parties to a divorce work with a neutral third party to make decisions about how their marriage will end. When agreements are made, the couple is closer to bringing its marriage to an end. When couples cannot find resolution in mediation, they often move their divorces out of the mediation realm and into that of the courts.

A family law mediator does not represent either party to a pending divorce. In fact, the mediator should not assert their opinion as to what course of action a party should take, nor should that mediator advocate for one outcome or another. When selecting a mediator, parties may wish to choose someone who can clearly outline multiple courses of action in a manner that lets the parties make an informed decision about what to do.

Parties to a mediated divorce may also want to choose a mediator who has experience in the family law field. Mediation is used in other legal fields of practice, and while the process of mediation may be similar across practice areas, family law is a unique area of law and a couple's mediator should be well-versed in the laws that apply to the divorce process.

A good way to find an experienced family law mediator is to contact the local bar association in the community in which the parties live. Bar associations can give interested parties referrals to attorneys and other professionals who are able to serve as divorce mediators. Word of mouth can also be a useful way to find leads on locating a family law mediator that a couple can successfully work with.

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