Mediation is an alternative method for resolving issues in a divorce. Depending on your situation, the court may require you and your spouse to attend mediation meetings. However, you can also elect to pursue this option on your own with a private mediator. A mediator is an impartial third party who helps you and your spouse work through your differences. Still, they cannot provide you with legal advice. Because the matters you’re settling in your divorce can substantially impact your life, you may be apprehensive about signing your agreement without first talking to a professional. Fortunately, you and your spouse can separately have an attorney help during mediation. They can explain your rights, review settlements, and protect your best interests.
At Claery & Hammond, LLP, we are strong proponents of resolving divorce issues through alternative dispute methods. Whether you are looking for legal representation or a mediator, contact our Los Angeles team at (310) 817-6904.
What Is Mediation?
If you and your spouse are going through a divorce, you must settle matters like property division, child custody, visitation, child support, and alimony. These are very emotional and complicated issues. Understandably, you and your spouse might not agree on everything concerning them.
Before taking your case to court and having a judge decide, you can pursue mediation. This resolution method allows you and your spouse to resolve your disputes together. A third-party mediator will keep your conversations focused on the issue at hand. If discussions go off-topic, the mediator will pull them back to a more productive path, providing a more effective way for you and your spouse to come to agreements.
Because mediation allows you and your spouse to settle matters together, you can avoid taking your case to trial, making it a less stressful and more cost-effective alternative to litigation.
Sometimes mediation is required. Typically, a court will order a couple to attend mediation if their case involves children. However, you may choose to go to private mediation. Although it’s not court-mandated, you can still address any or all of the issues raised in your divorce.
Who Serves as the Mediator?
The mediator is an impartial party either assigned by the court or chosen by you and your spouse. Generally, they must have advanced degrees, experience in a counseling-related setting, and mediation training. If you are going through private mediation, you can search online, contact the court, or use other legal resources for help finding a mediator.
The mediator does not decide on anything for you and your spouse, and they cannot force you to settle things in a particular way. They are there to facilitate discussions.
The mediator also cannot give you or your spouse legal advice. Thus, your decisions must be informed by your knowledge and understanding of your rights and legal options. This can be stressful because the decisions you make during mediation will eventually become court orders and can affect nearly every aspect of your life, from how much time you spend with your children to the amount of property you receive.
So what can you do to make confident decisions during mediation? You can reach out to a family law attorney.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me?
An attorney can provide legal counsel during mediation. They can help you understand California’s laws concerning family matters. They can also discuss how certain agreements might affect you in the future. If necessary, they can help negotiate settlements. After you and your spouse decide on resolutions and before your documents are submitted to the court, your lawyer can review the provisions to determine whether they are in your best interests.
You and your spouse must each have separate lawyers if you want legal guidance during mediation. One attorney cannot represent you both, as that would be a conflict of interest. Thus, if your spouse retains legal representation, it may be a good idea for you to get counsel also.
Can My Attorney Be Present During Mediation Conferences?
Whether your lawyer can go to mediation conferences with you depends on your situation. Generally, if you are attending court-ordered meetings, the rules of the court will dictate who can be present. Some courts may allow spouses’ attorneys to be there, while others may not.
Whether you are going through mediation because of a court mandate or you and your spouse have chosen to explore this option, talk to the mediator about whether your lawyer can be present. If you can bring legal representation, let your spouse know that you’ll be assisted by counsel during meetings.
Call Our Firm Today
Even if you are pursuing divorce mediation, you may also think about hiring an attorney. That way, you can get knowledgeable legal advice while going through the process.
Our Los Angeles lawyers at Claery & Hammond, LLP help individuals through complicated family law matters. Contact us at (310) 817-6904 today.