For many divorcing couples, the divorce mediation process is a great alternative to litigation. Mediation is known to be less stressful, less costly and more amicable than litigation.
It allows the couple to work together in a non-threatening, confidential environment to resolve their divorce issues. It provides tools for the divorcing couple to craft their own settlement terms.
The mediator is a neutral party who does not advocate for either party or provide legal advice. Therefore, it is often recommended that each spouse retain his or her own attorney to consult with as needed during the mediation process.
Hiring an attorney early on in the mediation process can be beneficial not only for educational purposes but also to help you make smart decisions during the mediation process.
Here are 4 Tips to Consider When Hiring an Attorney During Divorce Mediation:
1. Choose wisely.
The mediation process is very different than the litigation process. Therefore, it is important to find an attorney you trust who is a proponent of the mediation process. You may need to have an initial consultation with more than one attorney prior to finding one that is a good fit for you. It is possible that the attorney you find is also a trained mediator. However, for your purposes, you would be hiring the attorney as your attorney, not as your mediator.
2. Discuss openly.
Since your mediator cannot provide legal advice, you will need to obtain legal advice from your own attorney. It is important that you openly and honestly discuss your situation and interests with your attorney. This will allow your attorney to understand what is going on. Your attorney may ask questions and request documentation as needed.
3. Strategize accordingly.
Prior to attending a mediation session to discuss a particular issue, it is important for you to meet with your attorney to find out what the law provides with regard to the issue. You should inform your attorney what your goals are with regard to an issue and what items you consider to be non-negotiable. Your attorney should let you know if your goals appear to be unrealistic and help you work out a strategy. That being said, regardless of the strategy, in mediation neither party should expect to get everything he or she wants.
4. Compromise Creatively.
The mediation process typically requires both parties to compromise in order to resolve the issues. Without compromise, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to create a well-rounded settlement agreement acceptable to both parties. Some give and take is required from both sides. This often requires thinking outside the box. Brainstorming can provide a variety of possible solutions for the parties to consider and is often done at the mediation session. However, it may be beneficial before the mediation session, for you and your attorney to brainstorm possible solutions that you could propose at the mediation session.