Divorce can be much less challenging when mediators are involved in the process. Mediators help couples navigate a path to a peaceful resolution. However, you should understand the rules of communication when working with a divorce mediator to ensure a smooth and fair process. Here are some insightful rules for how to effectively communicate with your mediator.
1) Include Both Parties in Communication: One fundamental rule is to keep both parties involved in the conversation. The mediator prefers that you communicate via email, copying both the mediator and your spouse. This approach ensures transparency and keeps everyone on the same page. It’s easy to forget this step, but it’s crucial for maintaining a balanced and neutral mediation process.
2) Don’t Ask for Legal Advice from the Mediator: It’s important to remember that mediators are neutral professionals. They cannot provide legal advice or favor one party over the other. If you are tempted to ask for legal advice, you should consult with a separate attorney. The mediator may offer general legal information, but not specific advice. If you’re concerned about not adequately protecting your legal rights or that you may be rushing to reach an agreement, the mediator may suggest that you seek legal counsel. Remember that mediators focus on facilitating communication and agreement but cannot provide individual legal advice. Seeking a consulting attorney ensures you have someone solely advocating for your interests.
3) Caucus for Confidential Conversations: In some cases, you may need to discuss sensitive matters with the mediator without involving your spouse. Mediators do allow for private, confidential conversations, known as caucuses. If there are details you don’t wish to share with your spouse, communicate this to your mediator, and they will facilitate a caucus to address your concerns.
4) Be Open to Legal Guidance: There may be instances when the mediator indirectly suggests consulting an attorney. For example, if one party is too eager to agree without fully understanding the legal implications, the mediator may encourage them to seek legal counsel. While the mediator can’t say, “You’re making a mistake,” they can point clients in the direction of professional advice.
Remember that divorce mediation is about finding common ground and reaching mutually beneficial solutions. Following these rules for communication with your mediator will help ensure a fair and efficient process. Keep in mind that mediators are there to facilitate discussions, maintain neutrality, and guide you toward a resolution that works for both parties. By adhering to these rules, you can make the most of your mediation experience and move forward with your life more smoothly.
Lynette Kim has over 25 years of experience as a Mediator and Family Law Attorney. She focuses on peacefully resolving divorce issues. The Kim Mediation and Law Center is located at 3701 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 508 in Los Angeles, California. To schedule an appointment, call 213-352-1000 or visit www.kimmediationandlaw.com