As a job, family mediation is both exhilarating and exhausting! Take a peek inside a family mediator’s job here – an accredited family mediator shares the best and worst parts of working with separating parents, helping them agree on custody and parenting plans.
The complexity of a family mediation job is surprising — and there’s a continuous need to learn and hone skills.
“People are surprised that I still love the work even after so many years in the field,” says Tina Hinsperger, a self-employed accredited family mediator in Ontario.
Here, Hinsperger relates the highs and lows of working in this sometimes high-stress social work career, and offers career tips and education requirements for family mediators.
Family Mediator / Social Worker Job Description
Family mediators assist parents who are separating to reach agreements on parenting plans for their children. Hinsperger also does custody/access assessments on high-conflict families, providing reports and recommendations to the Family Court.
Family mediators typically have a background in social work and/or law. To become an accredited family mediator in Ontario, specific courses on mediation need to be completed, along with an internship during which five cases are successfully mediated, before applying to the Ontario Association of Family Mediators.
How Much Does a Family Mediator Make?
Family mediators typically charge between $150 and $250 per hour for their services. For private custody/access assessments, the fees are generally between $150 and $200 per hour.
The Best Parts of Working in Family Mediation
Hinsperger enjoys assisting parents in effectively communicating their needs to each other and working out arrangements in an amicable way. “I find it rewarding when parents appreciate the process and when they feel a sense of accomplishment and closure,” she says. “It is unlikely that they would experience the same feelings if they chose to litigate.”
The Downside of Family Mediation as a Job
The high degree of conflict that can arise when dealing with separating and divorcing families, which greatly impacts the children involved, is one of the most challenging aspects of working in family mediation. “There are also parents who sabotage the process and are unwilling to put in the effort needed to reach agreement,” says Hinsperger.
Career Tips for Family Mediators
Hinsperger suggests gaining experience in dealing with persons with custody and access issues prior to becoming a family mediator. She strongly recommends volunteering with a supervised access program, or with people involved in high conflict in other capacities before getting into mediation.
“Develop strong clinical skills, take courses in mediation, and work for a period of time with an accredited mediator before branching out on your own,” she adds. “Liability can be high in this field and burn-out is high for those with no professional support.”
Are you unsure what career path to choose? For help searching for jobs or figuring out where you fit in the “working world”, check out Amazon’s job hunting and careers page.
A similar career – and perhaps a less stressful one! – is working as a wellness coach. To learn more, read What Does a Wellness Coach Do?
If you have any questions or thoughts about working as a family mediator or social worker, please comment below.
Tina Hinsperger, B.Sc., B.S.W., R.S.W., Acc. F.M., OAFM (custody/access assessments, family mediation, divorce coaching, supervised access). She has worked extensively with separated and divorce families, and with offenders in the criminal justice system and in child protection. She has been on the panel of the Office of the Children’s Lawyer for the past 12 years, and has been the Program Coordinator of the local Supervised Access Program for 10 years. She has expanded her private practice to include family mediation. Contact her at [email protected]