What Role Does a Divorce Lawyer Play in Mediation?
The divorce process doesn’t always end up with two people in a court hearing, arguing who should get what in the separation.
In many cases, the terms of a divorce are decided during mediation, far outside a courtroom. And, even if a divorce case ends up in court, chances are that the divorcing couple has spent some time in mediation, trying to avoid standing in front of a judge.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a non-courtroom setting where both parties in a divorce work with a mediator – often a lawyer or judge – who is an impartial third party in the case.
This private conference is used to work out issues related to the divorce that the couple cannot agree on on their own, such as:
- Division of assets
- Child custody
- Child support
- Spousal support
The mediator does not decide who “wins” and who “loses” in a mediation; instead, they help the couple attempt to reach a mutual agreement regarding any unresolved issues. The mediator then sends a report of the meeting to the couple’s attorneys and one copy is put in the official file for the judge to read.
Why Choose Mediation?
Mediation is looked at as a way to help a couple resolve pending issues in their divorce without the expense and stress of a court hearing, and outside the presence of each party’s attorneys.
The neutral setting with a third-party who isn’t invested in the divorce in any way can help a couple overcome roadblocks they’ve had in previous discussions, potentially resolving their issues on the spot. No one has their attorney whispering in their ear that they should “hold out for more,” and the mediator’s job truly is to help the couple come to an amicable, mutual agreement.
Can a Lawyer Help Me in Mediation?
While your divorce attorney isn’t going to be able to accompany you into your appointment with a mediator, they can help you prepare for the mediation so you’re ready.
You may underestimate how legally strong your position is, giving up too much in the negotiations. Or, you could dig your heels in too hard, causing the other person to walk away and negating any hope of a compromise.
A divorce attorney can help you better understand your state’s laws on the matters you’ll be discussing in mediation, giving you an idea of how likely you are to get the resolution you’re hoping for.
Prior to your mediation appointment, your attorney can help you better understand the mediation process, and work on potential compromises that you’re comfortable with so you can be prepared walking into the room.
Your attorney also can:
- Explain the rules and procedures of mediation
- Help select a mediator if one isn’t chosen by the court
- Review a proposed settlement for missing details or other potential issues
- Prepare formal paperwork if you reach a settlement during mediation
If you and your spouse reach an agreement during mediation, have your attorney review that agreement before you sign it.
So, while a divorce attorney cannot directly be in the room with you during mediation, your attorney can help you prepare for mediation and can ensure that any agreement you reached during mediation is legal and in your best interests.
Experienced Divorce Attorney in Washington, D.C.
At Lopez Law Firm, we’ve helped dozens of couples through their divorces, both in mediation and all the way through to trial. If you’re looking for competent, compassionate representation that always has your best interests in mind, contact us today for a consultation!