A mediator is a neutral third party who attends a mediation and intervenes between two conflicting parties to resolve an ongoing issue, promote reconciliation, or compromise a issue without going to court. Having a mediator is an effective tool for solving problems because it gives the parties the opportunity to talk to the mediator about the dispute and have a neutral third party try and resolve the issue without litigation.

Are there Official Guidelines for Becoming a Mediator?

The answer to this depends on your state's laws. Many states, such as California and Oregon, do not have official requirements to become a private mediator. Still, most states do require that potential mediators complete court-run training programs to qualify for placement on the lists of approved mediators that courts keep.

How Can I Find a Mediator?

If a court has ordered mediation for your case, you can select your mediator from a list of approved mediators kept by the court. If you are seeking mediation on your own, you can select a mediator either from a referral service or from the lists kept by the court. Additionally, there are groups of retired judges such as JAMS (Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Service) that are available for mediation. 

Finding a good mediator depends on the type of dispute that the parties are involved in. Many cities have a community mediation center that do a great job in handling most routine issues such as landlord tenant, neighbor disputes, consumer issues. For more complicated issues such as breach of  contract issues, it is better to turn to a private mediator which can be found using an online source or a referral.

What Should I Ask a Mediator Before Retaining One?

Before deciding if a mediator is right for your situation, you should ask several questions. These include: 

  • How long he or she has been practicing
  • What mediation training he or she has undertaken
  • What his or her success rate is for mediation
  • Whether he or she has successfully mediated a case like yours
  • The hourly rate that the mediator charges for his time
  • How many session the mediator expects you need.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Find a Mediator?

Before hiring a mediator it may be wise to consult an experienced family lawyer. A lawyer near you can help you decide if mediation is the right solution for your problem. A family attorney can also represent you in court if you decide against mediation.