A title or office shingle advertising marital mediation can be misleading; the service is not regulated by the government.

"There is increasing and widespread recognition that marital mediation is a superior method to the adversary system, but the problem for the consumer is that it is an undefined and unstandardized field," says Mark Lohman, mediator at the Family Mediation Service of Northern Virginia in McLean. m

"You might find people on the fringes calling themselves marital mediators, and who knows what it means," says Garylee Cox, regional director of the American Arbitration Association's Washington office.

O.J. Coogler, attorney, psychotherapist and founder of the Family Mediation Association, has conducted several 100-hour sessions in the Washington area.

Experience to look for in a marital mediator, according to Cox, includes "knowledge in the legal system, counseling and economics."

In addition to attorneys and mental health professionals who may offer some form of mediation service, you may contact:

Mark Lohman, Family Mediation Service of Northern Virginia, 935 Swinks Mill Rd., McLean, Va. 442-9066.

Among Coogler-trained mediatiors:

Divorce and Marital Stress Clinic, 1925 N. Lynn St. Arlington. 528-3900.

The Family Relations Institute, 3705 S. George Mason Dr., Falls Church. 998-5550.

Community Psychiatric Clinic, 4803 Hampden Lane, Bethesda. 656-5220.

Douglas Tilley, 413 Chesapeake Ave., Annapolis, (301) 268-4072.

Dan Merlis, 2411 Everton Rd., Baltimore. (301) 466-5978.

Nancy Everly, Divorce and Family Crisis Center, Baltimore. (301) 825-0977.