Suzanne Landers: Divorce Mediator Interview


About Suzanne Landers, Mediator

Ms. Landers began practicing law in 1985, and she began mediating since 1994, obtaining her certification in domestic violence mediation in 2001.  She has historically served on the Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission, which governs the practice of mediation in Tennessee, and she remains active in community discussion and education on the topic.  Although now retired from litigation, Ms. Landers continues to mediate family issues and issues related to the international abduction of children under the Hague Convention.

Suzanne Landers joined us for a Zoom interview to discuss divorce mediation.  Here are her thoughts:

1. Preparing for Divorce Mediation

What does it mean when your divorce goes to mediation?

In divorce, does mediation mean settlement?

Should you have your own lawyer at your divorce mediation? Why?

Should you ever mediate with anyone who is not an experienced divorce lawyer?

Prior to divorce mediation, when you are a lawyer representing a spouse, what do you say to your client in your pre-mediation strategy meeting?

What is a divorce mediation statement? What should be in a mediation statement?

Do you recommend every family lawyer always prepare a divorce mediation statement? When do you recommend giving the mediator the mediation statement?

What is a divorce marital balance sheet? From the divorce mediator’s perspective, how important is preparing the marital balance sheet spreadsheet prior to the mediation?

2. What do divorce mediators do?

3. How often do divorces settle in mediation? What percentage?

4. What Happens During Divorce Mediation

What advice do you have for parents mediating custody regarding final decision-making, parenting time for school nights/school mornings, and cell phone usage?

How do you handle spouses who “back up” and offer less than they were willing to settle for earlier in the day?

In divorce mediation, how do you handle “take it or leave it” offers?

From the perspective of a divorce mediator, is there anything a spouse should never ever say to you?

In divorce mediation, how do you suggest dividing pets?

When you mediate custody, how important is the parenting time status quo? Why?

In general, from the divorce mediator’s perspective, how do you handle assets valued by the parties with large differences?

As a divorce mediator, how do you know when one of the spouses is a narcissist? How often is that? Is it hard to tell?

As a mediator, how do you recommend divorce mediation with a narcissist so the spouse feels in control?

5. How long does divorce mediation take?

6. What should you not say during divorce mediation?

7. What is a good settlement offer in divorce?

8. What to ask for in divorce mediation? 

How often do you see spouses who don’t know what to ask for in a divorce mediation?

As the divorce mediator, what do you do?

9. Divorce Mediation: Hit or Miss

Why some divorces just won’t settle?

Should you ever leave your divorce mediation before the mediator says you should?

What do you recommend divorce lawyers tell their clients when there is no settlement at mediation?

10. What happens if divorce mediation is unsuccessful?

11. What happens after divorce mediation, if it is successful?

12. Divorce Mediation Tips

What is your opinion on what’s getting better for divorcing fathers?

What are your 3 best divorce mediation tips for spouses?

What are your 3 best divorce mediation tips for family lawyers?

Do you have divorce mediation tips for high conflict divorces and custody battles?

What are some divorce mediation myths?

Explain parentification of children of divorce. In your experience, how often do you see parentification of children of divorcing parents? Do you have any advice for parents who are worried about their children in this situation

13. Meet the Mediator: Suzanne Landers

Tell us a bit about your education, training, and experience.

What do you enjoy the most about divorce mediations?

What do you enjoy the least about divorce mediations?

What advice do you have for those considering becoming a divorce mediator?

What is your proudest professional accomplishment as a divorce mediator?

If you could share a meal with any three (3) individuals, living or dead, who would they be?

If someone wants to engage you as a divorce mediator, how should they contact you?

View this playlist on YouTube: Divorce Mediation.

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