There’s a Big Difference Between a Mediator and a Lawyer in a Divorce Case
Start Small: Keys to Reaching a Good Compromise in a Divorce
Are There Times When Couples Should Not Use Divorce Mediation?
Although you’re still upset that your marriage is ending, you’re glad that you and your ex are still on pleasant terms. You chose a neutral person to act as your “go between” on sensitive matters in your divorce, and everything has been running as smoothly as possible. You don’t really want to hire a lawyer—after all, your spouse hasn’t—but you’re unsure about signing the final documents without having an attorney look them over. Is it really necessary to get a legal advisor, or will you be fine on your own?
Getting Legal Advice During Divorce Mediation Saves Many Problems Down the Road
It is important to consult an attorney as early as possible during the mediation process. Not only can you gain valuable insight into potential problems with your divorce, you can go into mediation with a clear idea of the choices you will make and the effects they will have. For example, an attorney can help you:
- Get fast answers. While your mediator may be able to help you make choices, he may not have the resources to know if they are the best choices for you. Attorneys not only have experience with the common divorce issues, they often have contacts with tax attorneys or financial specialists that can let you know exactly what you are dealing with before you agree to anything.
- Avoid emotional decisions. Your mediator may be more concerned with getting through the process rather than finding workable solutions. As a result, he or she may accept both of your decisions without asking why they were made, and if they are sustainable over the long-term.
- See all financial aspects. Attorneys can spot flaws in negotiated agreements that may not have occurred to the mediator, costing you, your ex, or both of you thousands of dollars as a result.
While you can get legal advice after you have already negotiated your agreement, the process is much more difficult. Even if you decide to renegotiate an aspect of the agreement because you were unaware of potential legal issues, you may be met with hostility from your ex for changing your mind.
It is much easier to consult a divorce attorney before you have agreed to any property distribution or custody arrangements, and to continue to consult with a legal advisor throughout the mediation process. For more information, download a free copy of our divorce guide for women, The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Divorce in Washington.