Mediation is a great process for maintaining limited involvement with attorneys, but they shouldn’t be shut out completely.
Recently I’ve spoken to a number of potential clients who are about to enter into the divorce process and want to use mediation. These clients come from different backgrounds and have different preconceived notions about mediation, but they all share the desire for an attorney-free divorce. And that is when I have the unenviable task of breaking the news to them: even in mediation, you need an attorney.
- A mediator works for both spouses in a neutral capacity and does not offer legal advice, whereas a consulting attorney works only for you.
- Consulting with an attorney during the mediation process leads to the participant feeling more empowered to deal with important or complicated issues that arise.
- Your consulting attorney will explain the overall impact of settlement proposals in a way that you understand.
- A consulting attorney will always have your back.
- You can avoid hearing or saying the words: “Sorry, we just spent months negotiating this agreement but I finally saw a lawyer and she tells me that this is not what I should be doing.”
The common denominator I encounter is that people who don’t want to use a lawyer in their divorce are coming from a place of fear. They are afraid of the cost, afraid of going to war with their spouse, afraid of attorneys telling them what to do. But if they hire the right type of attorney for this limited role, none of these fears will be realized.
Mediation-friendly lawyers view their role as one meant to support their client in mediation. They want to help their clients negotiate fair agreements based on what’s most important to that client, as opposed to encouraging a “scorched earth” policy that is focused on winning at all costs. Couples considering divorce should be educated – using a lawyer before you start mediation, at least for one meeting, is very helpful, You will get a better grasp of your rights and obligations, what the law says, and some of the common methods for solving problems. And if you find an attorney whom you feel comfortable with, you will quickly see the benefit of touching base and consulting with him/her throughout the mediation process.
For more information about hiring a qualified, mediation-friendly consulting attorney, contact Vacca Law and Mediation.
570 Lexington Avenue, Suite 1600
New York, NY 10022