When you have a dispute with someone that lands you in court, chances are sooner or later you will attend mediation. In many states, such as West Virginia, mediation is required in all circuit court civil cases, and in contested custody cases. If the parties have not voluntarily participated in mediation, the courts usually order them to mediation. The same general rules apply in Virginia and the District of Columbia.
What can you do if you have decided to attend mediation without being referred by the court? Selecting your mediator and attending mediation as soon as possible may give you more control over the process and result in a savings of time and money. How do you find a mediator?
#1: LOCATE COURT CERTIFIED MEDIATORS
Most states do not license or regulate mediators. However, states the refer parties to mediation or court order mediation adopt certification requirements. These mediators have complied with educational, testing and ethical requirements established by the state to conduct mediation.
- The Virginia Supreme Court maintains a list of court-certified mediators.
- The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals maintains a list of court certified mediators for family law matters. The West Virginia State Bar also maintains a list of mediators available to mediate civil cases.
#2: FIND MEDIATORS WITH A PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATION
Mediators may belong to professional groups. The Virginia Mediation Network is a group of professional mediators from Virginia, DC and West Virginia, comprised of professionals from various fields including mental health professionals and lawyers.
#3: FIND MEDIATORS THROUGH ON-LINE DIRECTORIES
Online directories, particularly some of the legal directories, also include sections for mediators. While those mediators may not have additional education beyond their law degree, the directories can be a good place to start.
- Justia is an on line directory.
- Mediate.com provides listing of mediators in each area. Be sure not to confuse them with mediation.com!
#4: FIND MEDIATORS THROUGH ALUMNI LISTINGS
Some universities in the US offer graduate degrees in conflict resolution. A mediator who has an advanced degree in conflict resolution in addition to a professional degree may bring greater skills and experience to the mediation. Locally, George Mason University and Eastern Mennonite University have reputable programs. Their alumni lists may include qualified mediators.
#5: FIND MEDIATORS THROUGH OTHER LISTINGS THAT FOCUS ON PROFESSIONALS ENGAGED IN CONFLICT RESOLUTION
You may be able to locate mediators by using on-line directories through professional boards to locate licensed attorneys or psychologists who concentrate their practices on mediation, collaborative law or restorative justice. Contact the both attorneys and mental health professionals listed with the IACP to determine if they are also qualified mediators.
Remember, any type of conflict, from a landlord tenant to personal injury to divorce can be mediated. Early mediation often minimizes the expense and trauma that is often associated with litigation. Our office offers regular seminars about mediation, free. Contact us to register for the next seminar or to schedule your mediation session.