Divorce is a very isolating time especially when you’re in that period of trying to decide if divorce is right for you. It’s hard to talk to family members or close friends because once you start sharing your marital challenges it could change your relationship dynamics and there’s never any going back. And yet, we all know the best way of finding professional help is through personal referrals.
My current guest, INRIS experienced this when he and his wife decided to divorce. They had decided to handle their own divorce and were looking for a mediator to help them work through their negotiations. Without being able to ask friends for recommendations it was hard to find a referral. Here’s INRIS:
This is one of the interesting things. When you go through a divorce, in general and especially if you’re an introvert, it’s hard to find people who are willing to talk about the divorce process.
I’m an extrovert in general. I realize that everybody’s more complicated than their labels. She’s an introvert, so she has friends but her net is not cast very wide. She knows people who have gotten divorced. Everybody knows people who have gotten divorced, but how do you broach the subject?
“So, how did your divorce go? How did you pick out a lawyer? How did you do this?” Those are conversation topics that aren’t as easy as, “Oh, I see you remodeled your kitchen. Who did you have do that? How did you find a good contractor?”
It’s very personal and people in general tend to be squeamish about talking about money, the salaries and that sort of thing. If you suspect that you’re dealing with depression or whatever, how do you find a counselor? Who do you talk to and say, “So, you’ve been depressed, how did you choose a counselor?” Finding some kind of help is easier than finding other kinds of help, so I do know that she did not have a personal recommendation for this mediator.
I also know that since I would recommend against this mediator, I can’t go around posting this mediator’s name and saying, “This guy is a problematic mediator,” because I don’t want to open myself up for a lawsuit or defamation or anything like that.
So, where do you turn to to get your testimonials for a divorce mediator?
In the end, knowing now what I didn’t know then, I would have suggested that we go with somebody who had a long track record of doing this kind of divorce for the state. But I didn’t even know that there were people who did divorce mediation for the state at the time that we started going through this. Plus, that’s still no guarantee that you’re going get somebody who doesn’t show some bias.
Do as much research as you reasonably can. Interview potential mediators.
If you know people who have gone through divorce with mediation, ask them if they would actually recommend their mediator. Ask them why they would recommend or not recommend.
Again, I know that’s a topic that people don’t like to talk about but if you can talk about and you can find other people who are willing to talk about it, I think that’s the best way to get a feel for whether this person is appropriate for you.
The Divorce Coach Says
It is hard finding the right people to connect with to talk about divorce especially if you haven’t gone public with your divorce. I know have a vested self-interest here but this is the advantage of working with a divorce coach:
- Your discussions are confidential. You don’t have to disclose your situation to any friends or family members.
- A coach is going to help you with the bigger picture than just the legal process. They’ll help you figure out what divorce process might work best for you and which professional players you need on your team. If your coach is local, they’ll be able to give you referrals.
- Every divorce is different so what worked for one friend may not be applicable to your situation and a coach will help you avoid these pitfalls.
I’m currently training as a mediator in Colorado so I can share some insight on how to choose a mediator, in addition to the recommendations from INRIS.
- Understand the licensing requirements for mediators in your state. Here in Colorado, there are currently no licensing requirements which is scary because it means anyone, literally anyone can call themselves a mediator. That means terms like “qualified,” “licensed,” or “certified” used here beg the question, “By whom?” It doesn’t mean the terms are wrong but you can’t assume that the issuing body is the state but you won’t know this if you didn’t know about the licensing requirements here.
- Look to see if there is a professional association for your state. I think this is particularly important where there are no licensing requirements. Here, there’s The Mediation Association of Colorado and there are several different types of members. I’m a standard member which means I’ve completed my 40-hour classroom training. I’m working towards my professional membership which requires 100 hours of practical experience. Thereafter there are annual continuing education requirements. If there’s a membership directory, you can use that to find potential mediators.
- Check the mediator’s website and in particular look for experience that is relevant to your situation. Someone who’s had lots of experience with landlord-tenant mediation isn’t likely to have the knowledge for your divorce.
When people ask me for referrals I like to ask them for any specific criteria that are relevant to them and then I’ll try to give at least three names. Even if you like the first person you talk to, do interview the others. It’s always good to have choices.
INRIS blogged about his divorce while it was in progress over at It Never Rains In Seattle … that’s how I first connected with him. It’s definitely worth visiting and looking through the archives.