Changing Mediators

Mar 27, 2022

In my own divorce mediation practice over the years, I’ve found that most clients who start the mediation process with me stay with mediation and keep me as their mediator until a complete agreement has been reached. That’s probably true for most mediators.

Sometimes the fit between mediator and clients is not a good one, and this may not be discovered until the process has already begun.

Occasionally, I’ve started mediation with clients who choose to move on to another mediator. Sometimes the fit between mediator and clients is not a good one, and this may not be discovered until the process has already begun.

I’ve also noticed that the timing of taking up mediation in the divorce process may influence whether a couple stays with their original mediator. The earlier that you find yourself in the divorce process, the more likely it is that one or both of you will decide you are not yet ready to focus on the hard work of making a plan for moving forward.

As time passes, and readiness for both of you improves, emotions surrounding an early encounter with a mediator may cause the couple to reset with a new mediator. I’ve learned to accept this reality, both as one who has seen clients move on to another mediator, and as the mediator who has been engaged by a couple that had previously worked with another professional.

Recently, a couple sought me out because of dissatisfaction with their current mediator. In our consultation, I learned from them about mediation sessions being arbitrarily rescheduled by the mediator, a sense of not being “trusted” by the mediator, a lack of responsiveness and a lack of transparency.

Admittedly, I don’t know what the other mediator would say in response to those claims. What I do know is that the values that were missing in the mediator these clients originally chose are exactly the values that I (and most mediators) stand behind— building trust, being flexible, being available, being responsive, being transparent. I want my clients to know who I am, what I do, how I do it, and why I do it.

While I accept that, along the way, I’ve seen clients move on to a new mediator (and surely this will happen again in the future), I am hopeful that those decisions will be based on factors that are beyond my control.