Mediators who are also lawyers will not give either party legal advice nor are they being retained to do so. The mediator is neutral. The mediator’s role is not to render a decision but to bring the parties to a mutually agreeable settlement. While parties are not required to be represented by attorneys in order to participate in mediation, the area of family law is complex and evolving. In order to obtain a fair and equitable result and make decisions affecting your family, your children, and your finances that will have long-term implications, it is ill-advised to proceed without representation. An attorney will review your finances, discuss your parenting concerns, and provide sound advice as to the law and how it applies in your specific case and to your specific needs. An attorney will advise you on the legal process as well. An attorney will be in the unique position to discuss the terms of the proposed settlement with you and evaluate whether or not the agreement will be in your individual best interests.
Michele E. D’Onofrio is a family law attorney practicing in Warren, New Jersey.