If both lawyers are settlement-minded, is there any point in spending more money on a mediator?
The idea of utilizing a mediator is to avoid, when possible, the need to use the services of two lawyers (one for each party) to gather the facts required for the negotiation of an amicable settlement of their marital dispute.
Like a divorce lawyer, a divorce mediator charges for his or her services on an hourly-fee basis. Unlike a lawyer, a mediator meets with both parties at the same time. In the initial meeting, a mediator can efficiently elicit from the parties (in each other’s presence) their incomes, expenses, assets, and liabilities. By contrast, even if both lawyers are settlement-minded, each party must incur the cost of meeting with his or her own lawyer, and then having the lawyers exchange the relevant information.
Not only does mediation streamline the information-gathering process and thereby result in reduced expenses to the parties, it also streamlines the settlement process. The parties can discuss the amicable resolution of any potential disputes without having to incur the additional expense of using each of their lawyers as a conduit for their concerns.
Mediation does not eliminate the need for each party to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer, who will evaluate the proposed settlement from the client’s perspective. During the course of the mediation, one or both of the parties may also wish to consult with an experienced lawyer to obtain legal advice regarding a difficult issue. However, using the services of a mediator is money well-spent in any case where the parties need to identify potential issues or have not already resolved those issues.
David F. Salvaggio has more than 30 years of legal experience and heads Salvaggio Law Group LLC, which dedicates its practice exclusively to Divorce and Family Law. David is also the founder of Choice Divorce Mediation Services. He can be reached at (973) 455-1220. View the Firm’s Divorce Magazine profile here.