If you’ve chosen to seek divorce mediation in the Seattle area, you’re likely exploring your local options. Picking a divorce mediator can seem like a daunting task when emotions are running rampant. Moreover, the mediator that you decide to work with should hold a level of your trust as they’ll be helping you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse navigate the muddy waters of divorce.
It’s a smart move to do your homework ahead of the game when on the search for a local mediator that fits your needs. Coming up with a few solid interview questions to ask your prospective mediator is a smart way to go into your initial consultation. Foundations Divorce Solutions has put together a shortlist of five questions you may want to ask to help you make an informed choice.
Why a mediator versus hiring attorneys?
Most people believe that when you are considering divorce, you need to hire divorce attorneys. The truth is there are different ways to handle your divorce. Going down the road of divorce attorneys is one way. Another way, if you are in an amicable divorce situation, is to hire a mediator. Instead of duking it out in court, as many of us have seen on television, mediation without the attorneys may be the route for you.
In the state of Washington, when you file for divorce, a couple is required to complete what is known as an ADR or Alternative Dispute Resolutions before you can go to trial and air your grievances in court before a judge. Whether both parties have hired attorneys on retainer to represent them in their divorce proceedings, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse will sit with a mediator with or without your respective lawyers.
How do you define and facilitate success during the mediation process?
This is a great question to ask a professional divorce mediator because it’s important to outline expectations. Odds are that this is probably the first time you’ve sought out divorce mediation services and are unsure about what to expect from the process. The mediator may go into some detail about what they feel they bring to the negotiation table and outline their professional strengths. Will it be enough for you and your ex to figure out who gets to keep the house and who gets the retirement accounts or do you want to know what the potential tax ramifications may be and the long term benefit or stress may be on each individual based on how these assets are split?
This question really serves to flush out some of these expectations prior to the beginning of the process. Mediation is a collaborative negotiation between you, your soon-to-be-ex, and your mediator with the aim of forging an agreement that both parties are happy with.
Some mediators only help you and your ex to come up with agreements but will not look at the specifics of the asset division and what potential benefits and pitfalls there may be based on your agreements. Other mediators who are also Certified Divorce Financial Analyst®️ will help you with the specifics of your finances.
How much do your services cost?
Price shouldn’t be the main consideration behind your decision but it’s certainly an influencing factor. Make sure to ask about how much your prospective mediator charges during your consultation. Mediators may bill an hourly rate or have a flat rate mediation fee. Some mediators charge $1000 an hour for the services they provide while others might have a set flat-rate fee of $7000. This is why it’s important to ask for rates upfront. Each mediator’s pricing is different, especially if they are being hired as a financial mediator versus just a mediator.
While it is important to keep a budget to avoid breaking the bank, you should really take into account the level of expertise and skill that the mediator has to offer. Ultimately, you’ll have to weigh these considerations when it comes time to commit.
If you have already gone down the route of having attorneys on retainer, you are well aware of the hourly rate and the amount you had to put on retainer even prior to having to file a single piece of paperwork.
What services and scope of work are included?
As mentioned, some mediators will only help the parties to come to agreements but will not help analyze the financials for their clients. Does the mediator’s services include reviewing your assets and the short-term, medium-term, and long-term financial picture for both parties? For flat-fee mediation services, does this include individual caucus times outside of joint mediation sessions, and how many hours are included? Will your mediator be drafting and filing your divorce settlement documents for you? Will there be additional court fees to pay or are those included? Getting these details all out on the table will give you a clear picture of what is included with the mediator’s services. Know what you are paying for.
How long does mediation typically last?
This is another good question that can help you set reasonable expectations. This will give you an idea of how long each session will last and a general sense of how long the total mediation process will take. This can be a particularly pertinent question if the mediator bills by the hour.
Don’t hesitate to ask these questions. Any reputable professional will be happy to answer these questions and dive into specifics. If you are seeking divorce mediation in the Seattle area, contact Foundations Divorce Solutions for a free consultation. We have both a flat fee and hourly rate model to fit our client’s needs.