Divorce Mediation: Who is it For?

I have heard that in Massachusetts there is a mediator on every corner.  Not so, in Rhode Island.  (We know the joke is that there is a DD on every corner in Rhode Island.)

As we promote mediation in Rode island (something close to my heart), it is important to pay attention to what is said about mediation – the truths and the myths.

In speaking with people, I have heard the following myths:

Mediation isn’t for those who have a power imbalance in their personal or family relationship.  Or in terms of information or network.

Mediation isn’t for those who show anger, who retreat or who cry frequently when talking about their situation.

Mediation isn’t for those who are submissive.  If domestic abuse is present, if alcohol or drugs are involved, or if only one person wants the divorce – these people cannot be helped with mediation.

These are the myths of mediation.

Mediators who have had significant training and years of experience know how to deal with these issues. 

But not all mediators have the same level of expertise or comfort dealing with issues such as domestic abuse or alcoholism.

Those interested in mediation will want to seek out a mediator who can effectively  help them.  it is important to meet with the mediator prior to beginning sessions and to share fears and concerns. 

Also, look for a mediator who participates in continuing education and training, in addition to years of experience.  In Rhode Island, you may wish to begin by looking for a mediator with the designation to the right, the M with a blue background. 

Mediators with this designation may be found on the website of the Rhode Island Mediators Association, at  www.rimediators.org.  The Rhode Island Mediators Association has strict standards for mediators with this designation, including initial training, continuing education and training, at least 3 years of ongoing experience, and liability insurance.  The Rhode Island Mediators Association also encourages feedback from clients. 

Choosing a mediator is about feeling safe.  Just as in therapy, a good match is critical for success.

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