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Do I Need a Lawyer for Divorce Mediation?

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You have been mediating your divorce for three months, and the break-up is almost done. The agreement states that you and your ex will have alternating holidays with the children, that you will stay relatively close to each other, and that you will keep dividing the mortgage payments.

But How Can You Tell if this is the Right Agreement for You and Your Family?

Mediating keeps you in control and enables you to produce a customized solution that considers each family member– and, will be the most benefitting result in your situation. But you should still hire a mediation friendly attorney as your teammate. Taking the counsel of an attorney will guarantee that the divorce agreement is educated, enforceable and just. Your attorney is there to evaluate your situation, explaining the law pertaining to you, answering your questions, give recommendations, to advise you through, assist you to make rational decisions and ensure you know precisely what you’re signing.

What is the Need for a Lawyer if You are Mediating?

While a mediator excels in addressing family concerns and drafting amicable divorce agreements, they cannot provide legal advice due to the necessity for impartiality. Your lawyer, well-versed in family law, can assess the fairness of provisions based on legal standards. For example, if your agreement mandates 15% child support, while the state statute dictates 17%, your attorney ensures awareness of such legal nuances. They can identify missing details and uncover potential issues not detected by the mediator, enhancing the agreement’s thoroughness. If, for instance, the agreement restricts parents from moving “25 miles” without specifying the direction, your attorney may raise pertinent questions, offering valuable insights during the legal process.

  • Where is the children’s school? Can they honestly go 25 miles?
  • Do the parents really plan on moving?
  • Can they ever move?
  • How much notification are they required to give prior to planning a move?
  • Does this still apply when the children go to college?
  • If the state is inside of 25 miles can you still move?

These defining questions can help bring to light the important details that leads to the agreement being able to be read, comprehended, and understood by anyone that reads it.

When Do You Include Your Attorney?

Opting for an attorney’s involvement at the beginning makes them a consulting attorney, ensuring preparation for mediation by detailing jurisdiction specifics. This attorney addresses concerns, aids in prompt decision-making, and provides valuable input between mediation sessions. Alternatively, involving your attorney at the mediation’s end designates them as a reviewing attorney. They interpret the legally phrased divorce agreement in plain language, ensuring comprehension before signing. Unbiased due to not participating in mediation, the reviewing attorney scrutinizes for any crucial omissions, conducts reality checks, and poses pertinent questions. Drawing on family law expertise, they assess alignment with legal standards and your objectives. Given the agreement’s pivotal role, understanding every term is paramount, necessitating thorough review and comprehension.

Why You Need a Mediator and a Lawyer?

For a successful divorce mediation, both a mediator and a lawyer are necessary due to distinct roles they serve. Understanding your legal rights and responsibilities, including child support, alimony, and property division, is crucial for effective negotiation. Legal advice fills knowledge gaps, ensuring you negotiate without being taken advantage of. Mediators can’t provide legal counsel, necessitating a lawyer’s involvement. While a mediator creates the Mediated Settlement Agreement, a lawyer is essential for crafting other vital divorce documents. Although you might consider letting your lawyer handle all negotiations and bypass mediation, this approach has significant drawbacks, emphasizing the mediator’s crucial role in reaching agreements. If both parties could easily agree on their own, a mediator wouldn’t be necessary.

Reasons to Hire a Lawyer During Divorce Mediation

There are many other reasons why hiring a lawyer during your divorce mediation might be a good idea including:

  1. To fully understand your legal rights and responsibilities
  2. To receive legal advice
  3. To know your options for important issues like child support and spousal maintenance calculations, property rights, etc.
  4. To draft your divorce documents
  5. To help you understand the consequences of your decisions
  6. To review your divorce documents before you sign them

Sources:

  1. Karen Covy, et al. “Divorce Mediation: Do You Need a Mediator AND a Lawyer?” Karen Covy, 11 Dec. 2019, karencovy.com/understanding-divorce-mediation-process-need-mediator-lawyer/.
  2. Mediating Your Divorce? Do You Still Need an Attorney?” Mediate.com – Find Mediators – World’s Leading Mediation Information Site, www.mediate.com/articles/RosenthalJ1.cfm.
 

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