Mediation is a process whereby a trained impartial person, called a mediator, helps you and the other party to your dispute discuss issues in a private meeting. The goal is to reach an agreement on a settlement of your dispute so that you don’t have to go to trial or arbitration. Mediation is typically much less expensive than litigation and is often quicker as well. There are several ways to find mediators near you, including word-of-mouth recommendations from friends or family members who have gone through a divorce, a search for “mediators near me” on the internet and through referrals from a lawyer or counselor.
The first step in finding a mediator is to consider your specific needs and goals in your dispute. For example, if you’re divorcing and have children involved, you may need to resolve custody, parenting time, child support, spousal support and/or property division issues. Some of these issues may be emotionally charged and you and your spouse may have difficulty communicating in a productive manner. For these reasons, you might want to seek a mediator with mediation experience in complex family cases.
You should also check the mediator’s background and training. It’s important to choose a mediator who practices full-time and has experience mediating divorce cases. In addition, find out how many cases they mediate a year and whether or not they have any additional qualifications such as a degree in psychology or counseling.
It’s also important to ask about the cost of mediation and how you will be billed. Depending on your specific situation and the complexity of your case, the mediator’s fees will vary. Some mediators will require payment after each session while others will bill by the hour. Some will also charge a flat fee for writing up your final agreement.
Finally, you should determine if the mediator offers any other services like coaching to help with emotional aspects of your case. Some mediators are also experienced in valuing retirement accounts and will perform these valuations in-house while others will refer you to an outside specialist.
If you’re a court-ordered parent in Multnomah County and need a mediator, the Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR) has an approved list of mediators who have completed the required training, experience, and continuing education to mediate with parents. ODR also has a number of approved centers that provide mediation services to parents on a sliding fee scale based on income. You can find a list of ODR-approved mediators and centers by going to their website. You can also contact ODR by phone or email for additional information. ODR has information about how to schedule a parenting time or custody mediation as well.