Feb 2012 13

How do I interview a mediator?

  • So you’ve identified a mediator you’d like to meet. What questions do you ask? What credentials are you looking for?
  • It’s really important to ask what percentage of his or her practice is mediation.  Mediation is a really specific skill, and it takes practice to get really good at it, just like everything else.  If mediation is only a small percentage of that person’s practice, he or she might not be seasoned enough to be effective.
  • Ask “what’s your style of mediation?”  some mediators talk about legal information, and others don’t.  Some mediators will make suggestions, and others won’t. So ask.
  • Make sure the mediator has experience in what’s important to you.  If you have a small business, has the mediator worked with small business owners before?  If you have a complicated child custody situation, what kind of experience does the mediator have with parenting plans?

Diana Mercer is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Perigee 2010). Join the conversation and community on our video blog and check out Diana’s divorce blog on the Huffington Post

Sep 2011 22

Forrest Mosten, known affectionately as Woody Mosten, is one of the country’s top mediation trainers.  I visited his office awhile back and he took me on a tour of his mediation office and talked a little bit about why he set his office up as he did.

I know it might sound like over-kill, but mediators need to be very mindful of how their offices are set up because setting the intention for clients is very important.

What does your office say about you?

Does the Class AAA space say that clients are paying your rent? or does your modest address tell clients that you don’t care about details?

Do the files and file boxes everywhere in the conference room tell clients that you will treat their file in the same way, with papers strewn about and their names written on files and boxes for everyone to see? Or does your lack of paper and files in your office tell clients that you aren’t very busy, and as a result that you aren’t very good?

Oh how I wish I knew the answers to these questions!

I used to feel like putting all my diplomas on the wall was stupid, and like bragging.  Besides, I’d written a book!  I didn’t need to explain my credentials to anyone.

Ah, youth!

Then I went to the dentist. He was putting a crown on my tooth. This was my first major dental work (thanks to my father being a dentist and working on the team that developed Crest toothpaste!) and I was scared.  I looked up at the wall and saw the certificates, awards, continuing education program completition certificates and membership in professional organizations and immediately felt better. My dentist cares about what he does! He keeps up with his continuing education! He is involved with professional organizations!  He’s a mindful practitioner!  What a relief.

So I went back to the office and put up my own “wall of fame.”  After all, we’re dealing with one of life’s most important transitions, and people’s futures.  As divorce mediators, we deal with everything people give a care about in the entire world–their children, their savings, their hopes and dreams for their marriage or partnership…..so I can put a few certificates on the way to silently say that I care and that I believe in what I do.

Diana Mercer is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Perigee 2010). Join the conversation and community on our video blog and check out Diana’s divorce blog on the Huffington Post

Mar 2011 17

Attorney Kelley Finan explains how collaborative divorce works

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Mar 2011 14

Diana’s new book, Making Divorce Work, is finally in stores!

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Mar 2011 10

For an author, the day the very first copy of the finished book is a reallly exciting moment. There’s nothing like it in the world, and it’s one of those experiences that you think you know how you’ll feel when it happens but when it actually happens, your feelings are so much more intense than you’d imagined.

My first book was Your Divorce Advisor and it was published in 2001 by Simon and Schuster. I ended up writing it innocently enough—I went to the bookstore to buy a book that talked about the entire divorce process, from start to finish, from both a legal and psychological perspective, but I couldn’t find such a book.

So I started writing it. It started as an office handbook, but once I got about 125 pages into it, I began to think that maybe it could be a book.

Not sure if the emotional divorce is as important as the legal divorce? Consider this true story:

Sometimes, no matter how far it appears a marriage has broken down, there’s still hope for reconciliation. I was sitting in court one day, waiting for my case to be called, and listened to a man give testimony in support of his motion to vacate his divorce judgment on the grounds that he didn’t know that he was getting divorced. He testified that while his wife had filed divorce papers on him many times in the past, that they’d always reconciled. He’d received a copy of the most recent papers, but they’d continued to live together, eat dinner together, put their money in a joint bank account, and they even slept together.

I started to nod off, as all this testimony was taking awhile, but my head snapped to attention on cross examination when the wife’s lawyer, barely able to contain his indignation, blurted out, “yes, but while you were all lovey-dovey making hamburgers on the barbeque and watching TV holding hands, isn’t it true that your wife SHOT you? Didn’t you realize then that your marriage was OVER?” Sheepish, the man replied, “well, she’s got a hot temper all right, but I got better and a week later we went to Disney World and had a great time!” The lesson learned: it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.

Legal problems? not so much…..!

Diana Mercer is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Perigee 2010). Join the conversation and community on our video blog and check out Diana’s divorce blog on the Huffington Post

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