Mediated divorces are growing in popularity. Whether it is for financial, practical, or emotional reasons, couples across the country are looking for ways to end their marriage in a way that is amicable and non-confrontational. Because mediation aims to keep divorce out of the courts, it is also a great way for divorcing spouses to feel as though they are maintaining some degree of control over the dissolution of their marriage. While there are many advantages to mediation, retaining an attorney throughout the process can ensure that mediation succeeds and that one's best interests are protected.
Advantages of mediation
During mediation an impartial mediator works between both spouses in order to help them come to a divorce settlement. Mediation tends to be cheaper than arbitration or litigation and that cost factor, as US News & World Report notes, is a major factor in why couples pursue mediation.
In addition to costs, mediation has the advantage of putting spouses in control of their divorce. Rather than having a settlement imposed on them by a judge, couples going through mediation ultimately decide for themselves whether to accept or reject a settlement.
Retaining an attorney
People going through mediation sometimes assume that consulting an attorney during mediation is unnecessary. Others worry that bringing an attorney into the mediation process will lead to confrontation. However, as the Wall Street Journal reports, an attorney plays a vital role in ensuring that the mediation process succeeds.
Spouses entering into mediation may have plenty of goodwill, for example, but their knowledge of family law is likely to be limited. People who are not trained in law cannot be expected to have much knowledge of the legal implications of various proposals made during divorce negotiations. For example, few people in the midst of a divorce would know what the consequences of trading Social Security Benefits in exchange for a stake in the marital home are. A mediator, since he or she is a neutral party, can only go so far in offering legal advice to either spouse. While an attorney cannot be present at mediation sessions themselves, she can offer clients valuable advice about the benefits and implications of whatever proposals may have been made during those sessions. An attorney who is experienced in both mediation and litigation can also be of assistance in case mediation fails.
The decisions that are made during divorce will have consequences for years to come. That is why talking to an attorney, regardless of whether one opts for an alternative or traditional divorce route, is so important. A qualified family law attorney can offer advice tailored to a client's particular situation and work to ensure that whatever decisions he or she makes are in his or her best interests.