Mediation helps a divorcing couple work things out in a more flexible, informal setting, and usually results in better outcomes for both sides. Couples participating in mediation typically have their own attorneys there to assist them with understanding the legal ramifications of the decisions being made. While it is not mandatory to have the assistance of legal counsel, there are three very good reasons why you should:
1. Specific legal advice.
While the mediator will provide you with general guidelines, that legal advice will not be specific to either spouse but will instead be impartial to both. In other words, a mediator cannot give you specific legal advice. But a consulting attorney can. Even if your divorce is an amicable one, there are bound to be issues that arise where you wonder what the best course of action will be for your individual future. Having your own attorney to consult with you on these issues will help you make informed decisions as well as move the mediation process along more smoothly.
One of the biggest benefits of mediation is that both parties have control over all the decisions and the final divorce agreement. The mediator is there to facilitate decision-making, not to make the actual decisions as a judge does in litigation. This means that you will be negotiating for yourself with your soon-to-be ex — something that most people feel uncomfortable doing because of the emotional complexity. Having a family law attorney to coach you through each stage of the process will help you be a better, more confident negotiator.
3. Document review.
Once the mediation process has been completed and you have reached a final agreement on all the issues in your divorce, everything must be finalized in a written agreement for the court. This agreement is, in fact, a legal contract between you and your ex that will govern your legal rights and responsibilities for many years. It is imperative that you do not sign it without a thorough understanding of all the provisions that were hammered out during mediation. To avoid costly mistakes or misunderstandings, you should go over your final agreement in detail with your attorney to ensure everything is correct.
It is important that you do not wait too long to retain an attorney when you are facing a family law issue. Delays can cost you valuable legal rights, and you want to make sure that you have the advice and support you need to make the best decisions for you and your family long after the divorce settlement is reached. Contact us today for your free consultation.