Many couples have difficulty resolving complex issues in their divorce. For some, these issues include establishing custody arrangements and alimony payments. A neutral third party called a mediator can help resolve these disputes. Some examples of mediators include attorneys, therapists, CPAs, and social workers.
It’s important to find a mediator with experience in divorce cases. While not all mediators are attorneys, they should have a solid background in divorce law, and family matters such as property valuation and distribution, child custody and support, retirement asset transfers, and real estate valuation and transfer.
Finding a lawyer with financial expertise and a deep understanding of child advocacy is also important. For instance, a mediator with both financial knowledge and years of experience working as a children’s advocate may be best suited to the needs of your case. While many couples work with a mediator without bringing their lawyer to mediation sessions, hiring a consulting attorney for legal advice is often wise. This can ensure that you receive accurate information and do not agree to a settlement, not in your best interests.
Divorce mediation allows couples to resolve their issues in private conversations facilitated by an impartial third party. The process can also save spouses the significant costs of hiring litigation attorneys to represent them. When choosing a divorce mediator, finding one with a good reputation is important. The right mediator should be experienced and familiar with your state’s law regarding your case’s issues, including dividing property, allocating custody, and determining spousal or child support payments. The best divorce mediation lawyer is known for being fair, respectful, and transparent in communicating with couples. They should also have a track record of successful settlements. If you are considering a mediated divorce, it is also essential to understand what issues are inappropriate for mediation. For example, a lawyer may be necessary if you are dealing with domestic violence or there is a restraining order against your spouse.
A seasoned divorce attorney may charge more than a non-attorney mediator, but this option could be worth the extra expense for divorcing couples with complex issues like property division. Most companies offering mediation packages provide a fee schedule so you can plan and budget for these services. A good mediator should complete all the “homework” required for a court case, including gathering documents and information, preparing reports, and drafting agreements. This will save you the cost of retaining separate attorneys to perform these tasks in court. Some divorce mediators refer spouses to a separate attorney to review and approve the final mediated settlement agreement, either at the beginning or the end of the process. This added legal expertise can help ensure the settlement meets both spouses’ needs and protects their rights. It can also be a benefit for couples who have complicated financial issues or custody disputes.
While you don’t need to bring a divorce lawyer to mediation sessions, some couples have their attorneys with them to help ensure that their interests are represented and their settlement proposals are realistic. Having an attorney to draft and review any separation agreements reached during mediation is also helpful.
A skilled mediator can keep both spouses focused on the crucial issues that must be addressed in their case, including property valuation and division, child custody, spousal or alimony/maintenance support, retirement asset transfers, real estate transfers, and business valuation and sale. In addition, a successful divorce mediation will often make it easier for the couple to file an uncontested divorce in court, saving time and money.