Mediation is a very effective intervention for divorce. It is the process where a neutral third-party act as a mediator to help couples agree on the terms of a settlement. Mediation is designed to assist parties in resolving their disputes more quickly than the traditional court system. Mediation is also known for being a cheaper process. Prior to attending your first meeting, here are four things you should know about mediation.

1. Look for an Experienced, Local Divorce Mediator

When searching for a mediator, look for a firm that employs local and experienced divorce attorneys as mediators. In some places, literally, anyone can claim that they are a divorce mediator.  It is important to find someone who is local because laws and policies vary from state to state and even between cities. Look for a mediator that has been a practicing divorce lawyer in your local area and jurisdiction. It is important for them to know the laws and customs that pertain to your case. Interview your mediator prior to hiring them. Ask them about how their training, knowledge, and experience is specific for handling your particular dispute. Ask what values and goals they emphasize in their practice. Ask them to share the ethical standards they follow. Ask about whatever is important to you to find a perfect fit.

2. Neutrality and Confidentiality is Key

You should expect your divorce mediator to remain completely neutral on all issues that are discussed. The mediator is trained to facilitate discussion between two parties instead of projecting their own opinions. If you feel your mediator is biased at all, consider finding someone else. In addition to neutrality, confidentiality is of utmost importance during mediation. Unlike the public publicity of court proceedings, everything said during mediation is kept completely confidential. Parties can feel free to speak openly without their conversations becoming disclosed in court.

3. Mediation Puts You in Control

Mediation offers you control over the outcome of your divorce. In court proceedings, the judge has the power to make decisions when necessary. In mediation, only the parties involved are in charge of making decisions. A divorce mediator cannot impose decisions without full consent. If you don’t want to risk someone else deciding the outcome of your case, mediation is a safe option that prevents that from happening.

4. There is No Right Time to Mediate

Any time is the right time to mediate. If money is an issue, the cost of mediation is modest compared to the overall cost of legal fees. Mediation is also effective. More than 90% of mediations result in long-term resolutions between both parties. Even if you find yourself in the 10% of couples who do not settle, you learn a lot along the way that can help you settle in the future. No matter what stage of divorce you are in, mediation is an option for you. If you are frustrated with your lawyer, consider meeting with a mediator to find out if that is a better fit for you.

Mediation is confidential, cost-effective, and puts you in control. There is no right or wrong time to mediate. Prior to meeting with a divorce mediator, do your research. Find a mediator that holds the same goals and standards as you do. It is important to find someone that is local and experienced. If having control over the outcome of your divorce is important to you, highly consider meeting with a mediator.