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The Importance of Choosing an Experienced Mediator

June 21, 2024 | Posted In Business Litigation, Family Law

Mediation can be an extremely effective tool for resolving disputes between parties who share a common interest in avoiding a costly and contentious trial. But, in order for mediation to serve its intended purpose, it is essential to have an experienced mediator sitting at the head of the table.

Understanding the Mediator’s Role in Dispute Resolution

To understand why, it is first necessary to understand the mediator’s role. Unlike a judge, a mediator does not resolve the parties’ dispute. Instead, the mediator helps the parties resolve their dispute on their own. If disputing parties can come to terms through informal negotiations—and if they are confident that their negotiations have addressed all pertinent issues—then they don’t need a mediator.

But, if they can’t come to terms, or if they need help identifying all of the issues they need to address in order to prevent additional disputes down the line, a mediator’s services can be essential. By facilitating cool-headed and good-faith negotiations and by helping ensure that the parties thoughtfully address all pertinent issues, an experienced negotiator will be able to help enable a resolution that provides both parties with much-needed certainty for the future.  

5 Reasons Why Your Choice of Mediators Matters

With these fundamental considerations in mind, here are five reasons why your choice of mediators matters:

1. Each Party Needs to Understand the Other’s Point of View

For disputing parties to come to terms through mediation, they need to have an accurate understanding of each other’s point of view. In far too many cases, ineffective communication and misguided assumptions get in the way of productive negotiations. An experienced mediator will be able to identify barriers that need to be broken down—and will be able to help the parties find a way forward before their negotiations break down instead.

2. The Parties Need to Consider All Relevant Factors  

When one party to a dispute is unwilling to reconsider its position, this is often the result of overlooking relevant factors. For example, if one divorcing spouse is demanding more parenting time than the other is willing to concede, it may be helpful to discuss the parties’ respective work schedules and other post-divorce obligations. Or, in a business dispute, if one party refuses to consider options that preserve the parties’ business relationship, it may be helpful to discuss the challenges and costs involved with finding other reliable vendors or suppliers. An experienced mediator will have the insights needed to help the parties address these types of considerations.

3. A Mediator Needs to Be Able to Guide the Parties’ Negotiations

Negotiation is indeed an art, and parties who lack experience negotiating can quickly find themselves both frustrated and in over their heads. As a result, having a neutral third party guide negotiations can be essential for keeping disputing parties on the path toward a mutually agreeable resolution. Experienced mediators will have various tools and strategies that they can deploy to keep the parties’ negotiations as focused and productive as possible.

4. A Mediator Needs to Be Able to Help Cooler Heads Prevail

Even when both parties to a dispute or divorce are open to working out an amicable resolution, it is not uncommon for tempers to flare. When this happens, it is essential to have an experienced mediator involved who can help cooler heads prevail.

5. A Mediator Needs to Be Able to Offer Creative Solutions

When parties to a dispute or divorce reach an impasse, this is often simply because they are not considering all of the options they have available. An experienced mediator can also offer creative solutions that help the parties move past disagreements that might otherwise lead to litigation.

Choosing an Experienced Mediator for Your Dispute or Divorce

Now that you know why it is important to have an experienced mediator, how do you choose an experienced mediator for your dispute or divorce? Here are five key considerations:

  • Extensive Relevant Mediation Experience – First and foremost, you will want to choose a mediator who has extensive experience in your specific area of need. For example, while a mediator who regularly assists with investment fraud disputes may be extremely good at what he or she does, he or she may also lack the insights needed to offer creative solutions during a divorce.
  • Extensive Experience as an Advocate in Mediation – It can be helpful to choose a mediator who has extensive experience as an advocate in mediation as well. This will give the mediator additional insight into what the parties might (or might not) be thinking and how their lawyers are advising them during the mediation process.
  • Prior Experience as a Judge – While a mediator is not a judge, it can still be extremely valuable to choose a mediator who has prior experience behind the bench. Judges handle extremely contentious and high-stakes disputes on a regular basis, and they will usually have invaluable insights into what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to informal dispute resolution.
  • Membership in the New Jersey Association Of Professional Mediators (NJAPM) – The NJAPM is a non-profit association “engaged in and dedicated to the practice of dispute resolution through mediation.” While membership In NJAPM is not mandatory, a mediator’s membership reflects a commitment to the practice of amicable and effective alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
  • Qualification with the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) – A mediator who is qualified with the New Jersey AOC is eligible to serve as a court-appointed mediator within the New Jersey State Court system. Qualification demonstrates that a mediator is familiar with the rules for conducting mediation sessions when judges require parties to mediate in an effort to avoid trial.

Speak with a Mediator at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.

If you need an experienced mediator for a dispute or divorce in New Jersey, we invite you to get in touch. Kenneth S. Domzalski of Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. is a former Judge of the Superior Court in New Jersey and a current Mediator, Qualified 1:40 AOC Mediator, NJAPM General Member. To request an appointment with Mr. Domzalski, please call 877-435-6371 or inquire online today.

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