Did you know attorneys fulfill a vital role in divorce mediation?
This is contrary to the misconception that spouses can pursue this out-of-court alternative effectively with minimal or no participation from their legal counsel.
The attorneys’ roles in divorce mediation include advising the spouses, participating in mediation sessions, and finalizing a mutual settlement agreement.
Spouses who believe they can proceed with this process sans counsel endanger the divorce mediation itself. And not only that, but they also risk serious harm to their interests.
These risks are not worth the savings from eschewing attorneys during mediation.
Getting Competent Legal Counsel Is Essential
Want to benefit from the divorce mediation process fully?
Get competent legal counsel.
Attorneys can assist in helping the spouses understand the mediation process as well as examine other options. In the same way, attorneys can elaborate on the consequences of various proposed options.
The participation of legal counsel in divorce mediation serves many other purposes.
It can be reassuring for the parties who feel disadvantaged, confused, or overwhelmed to have counsel by their side. Attorneys can provide answers to questions or concerns.
As divorce mediators, attorneys are also knowledgeable in appropriate dispute-resolution techniques. This skill will come in handy when one party reacts negatively during a session, as it requires timely intervention.
The most crucial participation of attorneys in divorce mediation is during the finalization of the mediation settlement. This stage in mediation involves crafting a mutual agreement that covers all the issues discussed by the spouses. So it requires in-depth experience, familiarity, and skill to articulate all the necessary terms to maximize the odds that the parties will comply.
Attorney’s Role in Divorce Mediation
In Ohio, the courts will usually require divorcing couples to attend mediation. There are, however, many exceptions to this. For instance, divorce mediation may not be ideal in cases where there is domestic violence.
But for those whose situation is suitable for mediation, this out-of-court option offers many benefits.
First, divorce mediation offers privacy. Unlike public court proceedings, the discussion remains between the spouses and the mediator only.
Second, this option is cost-effective. It provides a platform for the parties to discuss their issues and work out a mutually agreeable settlement. So it delivers a faster resolution than going to court for full-blown litigation.
Lastly, divorce mediation allows the parties to meet face-to-face with as little conflict as possible.
In all of these, attorneys play a crucial role in mediated divorce. Their role here is different from the role they play in divorce litigation.
Here Are The Ways Attorneys Can Help During Divorce Mediation.
1. Make the divorce process less stressful and combative
Divorce is one of the highly stressful events that people can go through in their lives.
But mediation can dial down the stress and conflict.
Divorce mediation offers a less hostile atmosphere, which can be conducive to open discussion and dispute resolution. Effective communication allows the parties to discover solutions to their issues.
Attorneys, as mediators, can facilitate a cordial discussion so the parties can freely communicate their concerns and settle their issues without conflict.
Admittedly, the spouses may not be best friends after their marriage dissolution. But at best, they can have a collegial relationship as they work together for their children’s best interests.
This can be made possible with the help of divorce mediators who are also lawyers. They can pave the way for the spouses to work together and create solutions to arrive at a fair and rational settlement.
2. Provide a clear understanding of the divorce mediation process
Even if divorce mediation is not contentious, the spouses will still benefit if they have competent legal counsel to move them through the process.
Typically, the spouses would meet with their attorneys before the first mediation session. There are many reasons behind this.
First, the attorneys can give their clients a clear understanding of the mediation process and the legal issues.
Second, this allows the parties to set their goals and intentions as they enter into a settlement.
Third, the attorneys can walk the parties through the mediation process and let them know if the settlement is fair and reasonable.
Fourth, the attorneys can also help in reviewing the financial disclosures. They can also answer any questions that the parties may have.
At any point in the mediation process, the lawyers can advise the parties through the negotiations.
Once the parties agree, the lawyers can draw an agreement, which they will submit to the court for review and approval.
3. Determine if divorce mediation is not the best option for the spouses
While it is the preferred option, divorce mediation may only be for some. The lawyers can advise the parties if this out-of-court process could improve their situation.
Here are the instances where the lawyers may advise the spouses not to pursue divorce mediation.
- where the spouses are unable to communicate effectively because everything ends up in a shouting match
- where one spouse is deathly afraid of the other because they have a history of physical abuse or domestic violence
- if either or both spouses have substance abuse issues
But as far as practicable, the counsel must remind the parties to act like adults and communicate cordially.
Pros of Retaining Attorneys in Divorce Mediation
1. Legal Advice
Divorce proceedings don’t just involve issues between the parties. These proceedings also include questions of law. This is where lawyers can help.
A mediator who is also a lawyer can provide the spouses with the legal information they need, not just legal advice.
Although the mediator should remain neutral in all mediation sessions, they should not hesitate to call out irregularity.
2. Discuss Ideas
The spouses may have ideas or opinions they want to share but aren’t sure if it’s relevant or how the other party would react.
Having competent legal counsel is also like having a sounding board. You can share your thoughts before actually raising them during the mediation session.
This is particularly beneficial if the parties are easily triggered by anything one party says. By sharing them with their counsel first, the parties can frame their language accordingly to avoid provoking each other.
3. Legal Coaching
Divorce mediation is negotiation. Parties will be at a loss if they don’t have a lawyer to coach them on the finer negotiation details. They are fending for themselves, unarmed and unprepared to face the other party, who probably has a lawyer.
Please note that the spouses cannot bring their lawyers during the mediation session.
However, the parties can prepare by getting as much legal information as possible before going into mediation.
4. Get Another Perspective
It can be challenging to be objective or even know the right questions. But having competent legal counsel can help the parties prepare for these challenges.
Lawyers can offer solutions or options that the parties may have missed. Having competent counsel with different levels of experience is the best way to address issues head-on.
Cons of Retaining Attorneys in Divorce Mediation
You have to consider that the spouses will also need to acquire the services of a divorce mediator.
So working with an attorney will increase the cost of the divorce mediation.
2. Different Stance
It is possible to have lawyers who may have a polarizing advocacy that may be contrary to the sentiment of their clients.
For instance, the legal counsel may have adverse opinions on the best recourse for their clients. As a result, they may criticize the mediation process.
3. Conflicting Perspective
It’s good to have a new perspective on things. But if that perspective is conflicting, then it becomes disadvantageous. This may lead to a situation where there are many cooks in the kitchen.
Attorneys in Divorce Mediation
The spouses don’t need to have a lawyer during divorce mediation.
The presence of a lawyer during the sessions is highly discouraged. Many divorce mediators think having an attorney during mediation may create tension between the spouses.
But it is highly recommended to seek competent legal advice to help the parties through the mediation process.
The spouses may be hesitant to get attorneys because of the cost. But unless they are confident in their ability to do the legal work, it is best to hire one. More so if the other party hired an attorney.
Some people may feel like they can handle themselves in their divorce.
But when one has the legal knowledge or training, the unrepresented party may end up on a losing end.
Divorce is not pleasant. It can be unbearable and stressful. With the emotional and financial toll, there is a lot at stake. And this can make people not think straight.
Getting legal assistance can give relief from stress.
If you need a competent lawyer to assist you during mediation, get in touch with Next Page Mediation.
We provide guided negotiation legal assistance to help you and your spouse have a peaceful and affordable solution toward divorce.