Divorce mediation involves a neutral third party called a mediator who helps the couple work through their issues and reach a mutually agreeable settlement. The process is typically quicker and less expensive than taking your case to trial. It can also be a better choice than litigation when both parties are open to compromise. However, mediation may not be a good option if your spouse is abusive, or if you’re concerned about drug or alcohol abuse or child neglect/abuse. In those cases, you’d be best off hiring an attorney who can protect your legal rights in court.
Although you can participate in divorce mediation without having a lawyer, most people choose to have an attorney advise them before and between sessions. The attorney can review any memorandum of understanding hammered out in the mediation session and make sure it’s legally sound before you sign it. This can save you money in the long run by avoiding unexpected consequences of your agreement.
Many divorce lawyers have experience working as mediators or in other family law mediation-related positions. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights, especially with regard to property division, custody and support.
You can find a divorce mediation lawyer in your area by checking with your county’s family court administration office or looking for one on a list from a national mediation or family law organization. You can also ask friends, neighbors and co-workers for recommendations. Some lawyers offer free initial consultations, or reduced-fee follow-up sessions. divorce mediation lawyer