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What Does a Bad Mediator Look Like?

By | - October 13, 2023

Steve Benmor is a recognized divorce lawyer, family mediator, arbitrator, speaker, writer and educator. Mr. Benmor has worked as lead counsel in many divorce trials, held many leadership positions in the legal community and has been regularly interviewed on television, radio and in newspapers as an expert in Family Law.

Toronto has some of the worst (and best) Divorce Mediators

The breakdown of a personal relationship is, well, very personal.

When an intimate and long-term spousal relationship ends, plenty of emotions are triggered.  Spouses usually feel scared, overwhelmed, and anxious. There is a lot at stake.

It is at this very moment that they need a steady hand, a calm voice, and some fatherly wisdom.

Most mediators know how to handle the mechanics of constructing a parenting plan, arranging the sale or buyout of a matrimonial home, and identifying and dividing family property and debt. 

But not every mediator is skilled in handling interpersonal conflict, creative in problem-solving, and can build trust and collaboration.

After 30 years of hiring mediators for my divorcing clients, I have witnessed some high-caliber mediation professionals and… well, mediators who have no business being a mediator.

This article presents some of the very worst qualities I have witnessed in mediators.

  1. The mediator does not create a safe space.
  2. The mediator does not foster an understanding of alternative viewpoints and collaboration between the spouses and lawyers.
  3. The mediator holds a fixed and inflexible viewpoint of which spouse is right and which spouse is wrong and how the case should end.
  4. The mediator boasts about their experience and expertise in influencing the spouse and their lawyer.
  5. The mediator displays partiality towards a spouse, a spouse’s position or a spouse’s lawyer.
  6. The mediator debates the law with the spouse’s lawyer in front of the client.
  7. The mediator embarrasses the spouse or their lawyer, either in front of the others or in caucus.
  8. The mediator threatens the client with greater risk, prejudice, or a negative outcome if their view is not accepted.
  9. The mediator claims that “no judge would ever… (fill in the blank)”.
  10. The mediator shoots down a spouse’s or lawyer’s idea.
  11. The mediator stops listening, or causes the spouses and lawyers to feel that the mediator stopped listening.
  12. The mediator gives up and declares the mediation over.
  13. The mediator causes more damage to the spousal relationship than before being retained.

Trust me, there are local mediators who shockingly behave this way, often unconsciously.

An ‘excellent divorce mediator’ is a highly skilled divorce professional who brings a wealth of subject-matter expertise, proficiency in human relations, exceptional listening skills, and demonstrates empathy and neutrality while creating openness, safety, and collaboration that leads the family to a speedy, inexpensive, and long-lasting divorce settlement.

The moral of the story is: When choosing a divorce mediator, do your research.

If you are interested in avoiding Divorce Court and coming to a successful settlement through Family Mediation, then visit the following link https://benmor.com/mediation-more/ and/or contact my Senior Law Clerk Marigona at 416-489-8890 or marigona@benmor.com to begin the path to a successful divorce settlement.

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