There’s a good chance you’d rather not take your divorce into the courtroom. Avoiding the courtroom may save you money and provide you more control over the process.
When it works, mediation is an excellent alternative. It’s not for everyone. You likely shouldn’t use mediation if your marriage involved violence or if you suspect your spouse was hiding assets. But if you can agree on some issues, you might be able to work things out with the help of a mediator. You may also want to invite your attorney.
Attorneys not required
In mediation, couples discuss their disputes in front of an impartial mediator. This mediator doesn’t take sides but helps couples find paths toward agreement. The mediator will help you voice your thoughts and make sure they’re heard. Likewise, the mediator may help you better understand your spouse’s competing concerns.
As the Florida courts note, you do not need to bring your attorney to mediation, but your attorney may still play an important role.
How attorneys can help you get more from your mediation
As mentioned earlier, mediation offers several advantages over traditional courtroom proceedings. These include the money it may save you, as well as the control and creativity it affords you. But these may only come into play when you understand what you’re getting into, are prepared and can transform your discussions into a legally binding document.
Generally, all this works better when you start from a solid grounding in the law. Your lawyer can help you:
- Understand the pertinent legal issues. Mediators cannot offer legal advice. Accordingly, you want to make sure you get the advice you need before you head into discussions.
- Define your goals. You’ll likely need to make some concessions. An attorney can help you think through your goals and find the places you can afford to compromise.
- Prepare your arguments. Mediation isn’t a trial, but you may convince your spouse to grant you some concessions if you can root your arguments in the law, backed by evidence.
- Understand what you’re signing. The goal of mediation is to reach an agreement that you can draft on paper. Before you sign, you may want your attorney to review the terms to make sure they’re reasonable. Once you sign and hand it to the court for approval, it will become legally binding.
If you and your spouse both agree, your attorneys may participate in the mediation, and you can benefit from their guidance in real-time.
Protect your interests
Mediation has its advantages, but it’s up to you to work out a fair deal. Getting your attorney involved is a good way to protect your interests.