Q. My wife and I agreed to mediate instead of hiring lawyers. But, we have been trying to choose a mediator for the last four months and I am beginning to suspect that there is something else at play here. My wife insists on controlling the process. I am a law professor, so she is highly suspicious of anyone I know or talk to. So far, I have provided her with the names of seven possible mediators.
My wife has either found something wrong with each person or talked to them for so long they feel conflicted out of acting as mediator. I don’t want to step on her toes but at this rate, we are never going to actually start the mediation process and she is going to conflict out every mediator in Massachusetts. What do you suggest?
A. I think you need to ask yourself whether mediation truly is the right fit. If she is so suspicious of you that she will not let you participate in the process of an initial call to a mediator, is she someone who will ever trust what you are saying during the mediation process? It sounds to me like she is using the hunt for a mediator as an excuse to delay the inevitable.
If you are truly committed to mediation, I recommend you come up with a list of three more names. You email each of those names and ask for an appointment for an introductory call with your wife on the line. That will allow each of you to get a sense of whether that mediator is the right fit for you. If after you jointly talk with three, you cannot agree on someone, it is time to cut bait and pivot to your other options.
You do not have to immediately jump into contested litigation, although if you still get the sense she is just looking to delay, I recommend you file a complaint for divorce to get the process started. This will force her to also be proactive. Either way, hire a lawyer who has a reputation for settling most of his/her cases but knows how to try a case if necessary, as opposed to someone who has reputation for pushing cases to trial. From there, you can make a reasonable settlement proposal through counsel and hopefully reach a negotiated settlement without spending too much money.
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