Couples divorcing amicably may find mediation a good alternative to divorce litigation. It is less expensive, less time-consuming and often much less antagonistic. Mediation is often preferred for co-parents because regardless of what transpired between them, they are going to need to work together in the years ahead. Mediation also offers both parties more control in the outcome of things like property division, parenting time and alimony.
Although you do not technically need a lawyer for mediation, it’s advisable to hire an attorney because you will want to know the legal implications of the decisions you are making. You can choose to hire a single mediator (and these often are attorneys), but couples are strongly urged to consider each hiring their own attorney either for the mediation process, or to review the agreement prior to signing off on it. The cost will still be less than what you would pay for an attorney to represent you in divorce litigation, and the long-term savings can be substantial if it helps you avoid making certain mistakes.
In divorce mediation, a mediator is responsible for facilitating an agreement between the divorcing spouses. What the mediator cannot do is give either of you legal advice. In mediation, it’s the mediator’s role to answer question and help those involved talk through impasses and reach a solution. But a mediator does not work on either party’s behalf. S/he must remain neutral throughout the entire proceeding.
Mediators usually do not create a divorce settlement for you. What they draft is something called a Memorandum of Understanding. Typically, this is reviewed by both spouses and their attorneys, who in turn draw up a final contract that is then signed. The settlement document is reviewed by the judge and then incorporated into the court’s final judgment.
You want to be sure that the agreement you have reached – which will be difficult to change once finalized – prioritizes your and your children’s best interests and minimizes the risks of negative consequences down the road.
What Can an Attorney Do For You During Mediation?
Most find it valuable to consult with an attorney prior to mediation and consult with them after. Attorneys may also attend. A divorce lawyer will:
- Give you insight into how mediation works so you will have a good understanding of whether it’s the right choice for your situation.
- Offer recommendations for local mediators (all mediators have different styles, some of which may be better suited to your case).
- Refer other professionals (tax advisors, financial advisors, etc.) to help you quantify assets and debts and negotiate with your spouse.
- Give you a pros-and-cons breakdown of various settlements.
- Review a proposed settlement and offer advice before you sign.
- Help you identify any issues or elements the mediator may have overlooked.
- Prepare the final divorce paperwork and present it to the court on your behalf.
Hiring an East Brunswick family law attorney experienced in both mediation and divorce litigation can work to your advantage. We can help ensure that your agreement is fair, well-informed and enforceable. You want to make sure you understand what it is you are agreeing to and signing. If for some reason mediation talks break down, you will have a lawyer who can help you move forward with litigation and ensure your rights and best interests are protected.
Call Rozin|Golinder Law, LLC today at (732) 810-0034 for a free and confidential consultation.