Education and Training: College
Salary: Varies—see profile
Employment Outlook: Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Divorce mediators have become increasingly popular with couples seeking to negotiate their divorce agreement under the guidance of an impartial professional. While a divorce lawyer counsels only one of the marriage partners, a mediator assists both husband and wife. The mediator's task is to help the couple discuss and agree on division of their property, custody of their children, and other divorce-related issues. These negotiations are designed to avert a costly, stressful, and time-consuming court dispute by settling the terms of the divorce before the case goes to court. Attorneys and/or financial planners for both parties may attend the mediation, which can take two or three sessions to complete. Following mediation, the agreement is reviewed by the lawyer for each partner and then filed in court.
Some divorce mediators are employed by mediation centers. Some centers are run by the government, while others are privately owned. Many divorce mediators also maintain private practices.
Education and Training Requirements
Divorce mediators often have a professional background in law, social work, or psychology. Training programs have been developed to instruct prospective mediators in the legal and financial matters related to divorce. However, there is no licensing procedure for divorce mediators.
Getting the Job
Interested individuals can contact mediation centers for work in this field. Divorce lawyers and family law offices may also need mediators. Many mediators work as lawyers, psychologists, or social workers full time and do divorce mediation on a freelance basis. As they gain a reputation in the field, they may be requested by lawyers or by the courts to do mediation. Those who work in private practice as mediators may get referrals from satisfied clients.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Divorce mediators who work part time or who work for mediation centers may decide to open their own consulting firms. Advancement for those in private practice often involves expansion. Those who work in mediation centers may become supervisors. As the need for mediators grows, more social service agencies may start doing this type of work. If so, mediators will be able to move into supervisory positions in those departments.
The employment outlook for divorce mediators is promising because they perform a valued service while providing an alternative to expensive legal assistance. The demand for mediation is increasing on several fronts. More divorcing couples are seeking ways to avoid public court appearances. The judicial and legislative systems are also showing support. The courts frequently appoint mediators to help resolve difficult divorce cases. Several states now require mediation before child custody and financial support disputes are brought to court. Mediators with a background in child psychology or psychiatry will be in demand to mediate child custody issues. In addition, social service agencies are adding divorce mediators to their staffs.
As the field expands, however, it is likely to become more regulated. Experts in the field predict that divorce mediators will need to be certified in the future and will be expected to meet standardized training requirements and comply with professional guidelines.
Divorce mediators work with people who are under a lot of stress. Therefore, they must be calm and reasonable. They must also remain impartial and ethical as they deal with sensitive issues. There is considerable job satisfaction when the mediator is able to arrange an agreement between the divorcing parties with minimal pain.
Where to Go for More Information
PO Box 51090
Eugene, OR 97405
Earnings and Benefits
The hourly rates of divorce mediators in private practice generally range from $50 to $150. Some charge as high as $250 per hour or more, with each spouse paying half. The rates vary with experience and with location. Mediators who are in private practice must provide their own benefits. Those who work part time as mediators may receive benefits from their full-time jobs.