Divorce Lawyers and Mediators – How they can work together for you.
Let’s say that you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are looking into divorce. One of the first decisions you will need to make is how to handle it. Will you each retain your own Divorce Lawyer? Perhaps you want to speak with a Mediator? Sometimes you may even try to go it alone. Finding the right fit is absolutely crucial. What you may not know is that sometimes these three choices overlap a bit.
If we choose Lawyers, why might we need a Mediator?
You may decide that you each really do need your own Divorce Lawyer to help you through the process. Even if you hire the most reasonable, talented Lawyer you may still face a long, expensive trial. Often these trials go forward because there are one or two unresolved issues. A possible alternative to a stressful and expensive trial can be bringing in an experienced Mediator.
Either one of you or your Lawyer can suggest bringing in a Mediator. While your Lawyer can suggest one they cannot hire one for you. You and your spouse have to agree to hire a Mediator. Your Lawyers can be present for the sessions or you can both opt to have private sessions. Either way, this may help avoid the cost and stress a trial typically brings. If you are able to reach an agreement on your unresolved issues, your Lawyers will draw up the final agreement. Your Divorce Lawyers will still go with you to see the Judge and have your agreement approved.
If we decide to use a Mediator, why might we still see a Divorce Lawyer?
Mediation is a great option for most couples. You can choose and independant Certified Mediator such as Rebecca Olesen, a Therapist who also does Mediation or a Divorce Attorney who also practices Mediation.
Two things to remember:
- If you choose a Mediator who is a Divorce Lawyer, they don’t represent you. This means they have to take their Lawyer hat off and act strictly as a neutral third party. That is, after all, what a Mediator is.
- If you choose a Mediator who is also a Therapist, they should not be the Therapist (past or present) of either you or your spouse. This is a natural conflict as they may be more intimately connected with one or the other of you. This can lead to unintended biases.
When choosing your Mediator, be sure it is someone you are both comfortable with. You may be dealing with some tough issues and difficult emotions. You want to feel comfortable enough with your Mediator to be open and honest in their presence.
Once you’ve found the right Mediator you will work with them to create a uniquely tailored agreement. Full Disclosure – a good divorce agreement doesn’t make anyone “happy.” It should be relatively fair and be something that you both feel is really in the best interest of your entire family.
Once completed, your Mediator may suggest you take that agreement to a separate Divorce Lawyer for review. (It’s important to note that at any point in a Mediation either party can decide to hire their own Divorce Lawyer.) Your Mediator may suggest you have the agreement reviewed for several reasons. For many, it’s a standard suggestion as a Mediator’s role is not to give legal advice. At times the Mediator may suggest a review if they are seeing some red flags in the agreement they believe might not be okay with your Judge. Having your agreement reviewed doesn’t mean you have to hire that Lawyer, it just means you are staying informed.
The Guidance Office strongly suggests choosing a review Divorce Lawyer who is an experienced Mediator as well. You can reach us at 860-305-9400 and we’ll happily send you a list of excellent area review Lawyers.
What if we want to try this on our own?
There is certainly nothing preventing couples from handling their divorce on their own. Even if you and your spouse decide to file on your own (Pro Se) you may still want a little guidance. If you and your spouse hit an issue or two you just can’t seem to resolve you may want to hire a Mediator to help with those. Many Mediators can be hired by the hour. This could prevent the two of you hashing it out in front of a Judge and potentially having them decide what is best for your family instead of you. Even if you have ironed everything out, you may still want an experienced Divorce Lawyer to review it to be sure everything is enforceable.
How do we decide?
Every couple has different needs. What is right for your family might not be right for someone else. Explore your options. Many Mediators and Divorce Lawyers offer free consultations. It’s better to do a little homework upfront than to find yourself knee deep in paperwork and no closer to an agreement than you started!
For more information on mediation and review Divorce Lawyers, contact us at 860-305-9400.