Considering family law mediation in an effort to work through differences with your ex? Here are some of the most common questions parents ask:
- Do mediators have to be certified? At this time, national certification requirements do not exist for family law mediators. However, some states require mediators to participate in state-approved certification courses and/or register with the state. Contact the clerk of your local family law court to find out about any requirements for mediators in the state where you live.
- Do both parents have a say in choosing a mediator? Yes. Both parents must approve the mediator before starting mediation sessions.
- What if you don't like the mediator? If you don’t like the mediator or you would prefer not to continue with mediation, you're free to end the mediation session. Either parent can decide at any time to stop the mediation at any time if it isn’t working for them or if they feel uncomfortable. If you have concerns about a specific mediator your ex has selected, conduct your own one-on-one interview. Then share any legitimate concerns with your ex. Be sure to articulate specific reasons why you would prefer to work with a different mediator, and then take steps to find a qualified mediator who meets both of your expectations.
- What kinds of issues can be resolved through mediation? Family law mediators help parents reach agreements on issues such as child custody, parenting time, visitation schedules, child support payments, and more.
- How much does it cost to hire a mediator? For parents who have been court ordered to attend mediation, the cost will be determined by the court’s mediation program. This varies by state, and even within states. Some local courts provide mediation free of charge, while others charge a fee. If there is a fee involved, the mediator will explain this to you beforehand. Generally, court mediation fees are around $100- $200 an hour and are usually split equally between the parties involved. In exceptional cases, a judge may order one parent to pay the entire cost. For private mediators, the fee will vary depending on the mediator. Generally, mediators charge an hourly fee or a flat rate.
- Can unmarried parents participate in mediation, or is it reserved for divorcing couples? Yes, unmarried parents in need of assistance working through child custody, visitation, and other issues can also work with a family law mediator.
- Can parents who use mediation generally expect to spend less money than parents who go to court? Yes, mediation helps families save money compared to the cost of working out your differences in court. And what's even more important is that parents who participate in mediation are more likely to stick to the arrangements they agree upon through mediation -- and that means more consistency for your kids.